Opinion: Why Applying for College is Going to Kill Me

by Dru Hunsaker

Applying for college is going to kill me. Okay, so kill might be a little dramatic. But there is a strong possibility that it will lead to some rocking back and forth in the fetal position, muttering incoherent things. For underclassmen, it’s difficult to understand what all of the stress is about. Most of them are eagerly awaiting the day when they, too, can strut through the hallways with an air of wisdom and superiority (that, like us, they will probably not have actually earned, because, let’s just be honest here, I still have the maturity of a five year old).

Part of the problem is that by senior year we are just plain tired. Tired of homework and tests and trying to bluff our way through the things that we don’t actually understand (ahem, implicit derivatives). Anyway, any motivation that we might have had to actually get things done has pretty much been shot to heck by now. I can barely muster the energy to pull myself out of bed every morning, let alone fill out forms for some theoretical future that may or may not take place.

Another part of the problem is this so-called future. Right now I am still very much living in the present. I don’t really care to think about the amount of debt that I could very well accumulate trying to gain my needed education for the career that I will (hopefully still be) interested in ten years down the line. I don’t want to think about bills and piles of laundry and filling out tax forms. It’s all just a headache and, to be honest, the future scares me. I prefer not to dwell on the uncertainty. I would rather continue in my blissful ignorance, as though senior year will never end.

The worst part is that when I finally conquer my fears and brave the uncertainty of the future, college applications are actually kind of awful to fill out. The essay portion is so stressful and you’re supposed to find some way to be deep-but-not-cliche and witty-but-not-obnoxious. You have to pick a topic that is both meaningful to you and vaguely interesting to a complete stranger who has already read so many essays that they are predisposed against you, and to top it all off, you have to stand out among thousands of applicants all trying to do the same thing.

Then you have to find a teacher who, among all of their other students, knows you as a person and still likes you enough to write a meaningful, personal recommendation (that you aren’t even allowed to read!). You’re supposed to remember all of the things that you’ve participated in during high school, then try to come out looking like a passionate, responsible, well-rounded leader when really your life just kind of feels like a mess. Some of that is probably the teenage angst. Some of it probably isn’t.

You aren’t sleeping enough, but you keep going to bed late. You spend half your time doing nothing, then feel like you have no time to do anything, and the stress just keeps mounting. Maybe for some people it isn’t this way. I’m sure that there are a lot of people who just do what they have to do and move on with their lives. But how am I supposed to pretend that the future isn’t coming when it seems that my whole life is consumed with preparation for the inevitable? So, I suppose it’s time to wake up and force myself to finish the process that I didn’t even want to start. In the meantime, maybe I’ll finally get more than six hours of sleep in a night. One can always hope.

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