Application Agonies This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   One weekend afternoon I sat down at my desk with one objective: to finish as many of my college applications as possible. This was difficult considering I hadn't actually decided where I wanted to go, although I had a tentative list of four or five schools. I also began to wonder, while looking at the pile of paperwork, whether the answers to the simple questions in the applications really give admission officers an accurate view of me as a person. So I don't have any work experience; would they hold that against me? Do my extracurricular activities really have that much of a bearing on my chances of acceptance?

I realize that, since sophomore year, I became acutely aware of "application embellishment," as I began rating my extracurricular activities based on whether or not they'd look good on my application. I cringe to admit (and I am sure that there are many of you out there who know exactly what I am talking about) that it soon became a driving force behind my sudden inclination to become involved in a large number of clubs. Yet in my defense, it was not the only force.

But I digress; here I sat surrounded by applications armed with a pen, white-out, Fiske's Guide to Colleges and a list of extracurricular activities. But what will those really say about me ... or anyone else who applies to college? I suppose that is where the dreaded essays come into play.

I stared for a very long time at the questions they posed, and felt the pressure, as the Dean of Admissions at Yale put it, "to describe yourself in your own terms." He does realize, though, that "the kind of brief, self-descriptive essays that we request are often quite difficult to write." I somehow doubt he can identify with the thousands of applicants sweating over essay topics.

At this point, I felt too overwhelmed to sit down and write, so I moved on to the next part - teacher recommendations. While I can see why these are necessary, I still feel guilty asking a teacher to take time to compose a letter, hopefully saying that I would be a good addition to the freshman class of Whatever University. And the feeling of guilt is multiplied when you know there are one or two teachers in high demand - whom you planned on asking.

Applying, in its entirety, is a bad thing. And if I didn't need a post-secondary school education, I'd do away with applying anywhere and become acquainted with a local fast-food chain. If I could change the process, I'd draw the admissions officers a nice picture, send them a large box of Godiva chocolates and then ask nicely if I could attend their school. But unfortunately, it doesn't work that way, and I'll have to be content with filling out applications the old-fashioned way. Good luck to my fellow applicants, and best wishes for your acceptance! v


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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