"That’ll Look Good on College Applications"

The United States Government defines a minor as a person under the age of 18. In the United States, minors cannot do many things. They can’t serve on a jury, they can’t get married, they can’t vote, and they can’t sign contracts.

This is because time and time, it has been proven that teenagers’ brains are not fully developed. The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that controls long-term thinking, and the ability to comprehend the long-term consequences of actions they might make. This part of the brain fully develops around age 20. Knowing what we do about brain development of a 14, 15, 16 and 17 year old, why are we allowing them to determine their future at that young age? The majority of 9th graders are 14 and 15 year olds. The first year Colleges look at grades is 9th grade.

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This. is. insane. 14 year olds, barely teens, kids who can’t drive, are determining their entire future, at that age. The main year colleges look at grades, extracurriculars, and anything else they decide they want a child to be doing, is the 16 – 17 year old’s junior year of high school. Again, at 17, they cannot vote, they cannot get married, they cannotget tattoos; all for good reasons.

Yet, they can determine how to get into college, and which college they want. They have to pick an area of interest, as well as a college! What in the world are we doing to 17 year olds in this country? Time after time, we hear stories of teenagers killing themselves. Often times, these kids are the ones you expect to go to an Ivy-League, who speak three languages, volunteer four days a week, and are on two Varsity teams, while maintaining an A average. They live in high-pressure areas, with most of the parents being professionals, and holding high-powered positions. This pressure is not sustainable. Colleges want everything.

Ask your teenage, ‘How many times have you heard the phrase, ‘it’ll look good on college applications?’ I guarantee you their answer will surprise, and hopefully, sadden you. This is the reality for teenagers in this country. Colleges want volunteer work, perfect grades, leadership skills, extracurricular activities, and sports. There’s this attitude of kids doing everything, and it needs to stop. I know that I, being a junior in high school, have felt the pressure to do everything, and it isn’t right.

Doing things for the sole purpose of having a good-looking resume for college isn’t the key to success, or to happiness. When the topic of volunteering comes up within me and my friends, I have never once heard someone say, ‘I really want to help,’ or ‘This charity is important, and I want to do my part.’ It is always, ‘Where are you doing your volunteering? I’m working at a food pantry, because my college advisor said that’ll look good on college applications.’ Obviously, this is a terrible thing to teach teenagers. But more than that, by having teenagers volunteer for the sole purpose of having it look good on applications, we are teaching them that getting into a good college is worth more than being a good person. A huge problem with the attitude that success is equivalent to getting into a good college, is that it doesn’t teach hard work.

Again, ask your teenager, ‘How many times do you witness cheating amongst your friends?’ Many parents of my friends’ have told them that their only job is succeeding in their education, and getting into a good college. When we, as a society, teach teenagers that the only thing that matters is a piece of paper stating their acceptance to a college, we aren’t teaching them about values and hard work. We aren’t teaching them that studying like crazy, and putting in as much effort as they can, and earning a B+, is acceptable. We aren’t teaching them that working hard for a lower grade is more valuable than cheating, and receiving a higher grade. We aren’t teaching them what it means to be a good person, or to be a good friend.

We are teaching them that anything it takes to get ahead is acceptable. And that’s not okay with me.