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Playing the College Game


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This past week, I began to ponder at why I’ve involved myself in all of the musical activities I have throughout high school. “Well, I absolutely love music,” I first thought to myself. But was that really the reason? I then forced myself to question my mind further. Have I really been involving myself in three choral groups, two instrumental groups, voice lessons, dance lessons, flute lessons, and piano lessons solely because I love music? I am sad to admit that my answer is no. The reason I have pushed myself to this extreme in my musical repertoire is because I want my credentials to look impressive on my college resume. I want schools to see that I am versatile in music, and have challenged myself throughout my musical career. This self-acknowledged conclusion made me question my classmates’ reasoning behind why they do what they do. Do we as high school students involve ourselves in academics and activities because we want to? Are we involving in sports, clubs, and groups because we like them, or are we doing them to play along with the “college game?”

College, since childhood, is the desired endpoint for many students during their educational process. It is a place in which students strive to be accepted into, and they work for that acceptance throughout their whole lives. In high school, we begin to learn what these colleges are looking for from their applicants. We learn that they take into consideration our GPA’s, ACT/SAT scores, and our personal experiences and accomplishments. Due to this underlying knowledge of not only what colleges expect, but also what will put an individual on top, we as students attempt to make ourselves look as impressive and certified as we can. This is a good thing, right? By polishing and perfecting ourselves to be the perfect student, we are increasing our chances in getting accepted into our desired schools. Changing and adapting to people’s desires is indeed a life skill that will guide us in our future. But I have come to the conclusion that because of this self-shaping into the ideal applicant, we are also decreasing our actual self-investment and interest in the activities that we love to do.

For example, I am going into music education. I have chosen this career for myself since I was very young, and a love for this art has always been existent in me. But when high school started, my involvement in music became frighteningly amplified. I seemed to be forcing myself to join every musical group I could, and I made sure to intensely compete in every competition available. This sudden eagerness to succeed and immerse myself in musical opportunities did not come from my simple love of music. Sure, this overwhelming passion is what drove me to have music be such a key component in my life, but it was not my reason for this vast involvement in the art. The drive behind this sudden involvement came from my desire to have a well-built college resume. This, unfortunately, is still a major element in what drives me to be so involved with music. The drive is no longer coming from pure love and passion, like it was in elementary school and junior high school. It is now coming from a want to sculpt myself into the perfected musician for colleges to analyze and accept into their programs.

Starting just next year, my fellow junior class and I will sit down at our tables and stare a white page of darkness and evil right in the face – the common app. For me, this single form of online application has instilled fear upon me for years now. But now, it also induces a bit of disappointment. Due to this application, students are sacrificing their talents and interests that make them unique, and are utilizing them as a way to make them look professional and impressive. We as high school students constantly think about what will “look good for colleges.” This phrase circulates around the halls of William Fremd High School daily, and this concerns me. I advise all students to take some time of their day and involve themselves in a club or meeting that actually means something to them. It is difficult at this point in our lives to not think about how our actions will affect our future. For the purposes of your own happiness and comfort, try to look past applications and college letters, and immerse yourself in something you love just because you want to. By doing so, you might encourage others to do the same, making our learning environment that much less pressured. Don’t give in to the game that college applying has created for our society. Remember why you love what you do, and not why colleges could potentially love that too.




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