On the homepage of Samo’s website there is an entire section devoted to answering any questions one may have concerning college admissions. From test requirements and academic recommendations, to setting up appointments with a college counselor in the college center; there is even a tab on the site that details the requirements necessary for applying to private schools. These instructions should be especially useful, considering Samo’s large amount of applicants to private universities. The number of students seeking private education at an Ivy League school have nearly doubled since 2005. While students have a variety of resources available to them, this semester has me truly questioning if the most important requirement is being met.
Naturally, I assume that one who applies to college for music or athletics usually enjoys music or athletics. In which case, one who applies to Columbia or Cornell for general admission should probably enjoy academia, right? Perhaps the most irritating aspect this semester of college admissions has brought out, is a sense of entitlement without any legitimate justification. The truth is, no one is entitled to an ivy-league education for any reason. High test scores and grades, and a large amount of extra curriculer activites doesn’t necessarily mean you should be applying to an Ivy League school. The rigor of these schools warrants a love for academics, and more importantly, a passion for learning. If, by junior year you can name the top 10 nationally ranked universities, but you have a hard time coming up with a favorite author, there might be a problem. Perhaps you may need to redirect your focus.
Overwhelming yourself with classes and activities you don’t enjoy purely for the sake of ivy-league admission is only going to make for an equally miserable college education. The most common statements I heard at registration during August were, “I’m going to die,” “Kill me now” and “This year is going to be miserable/[terrible]/[sketch].” Ironically, this is commonly the same group of individuals who avidly seek admission to American’s top universities.
The energy these stressed out applicants demand from fellow applicants is incredibly agitating. By no stretch of the imagination can I understand that four AP classes with college applications is stressful. But when applying to a school where your schedule will consist of only AP classes (and far more difficult ones than those at Samo), it might be important to evaluate why you’re so stressed. If time management is the issue, that is one thing: I can only expect that this will always be a problem for the overachiever. But when one arrives at school complaining about how they just cried themselves to sleep over AP Government, then I can’t help but question if that person is really going to be happy at one of the Ivy League schools they are applying to, and have been bragging about for the last several months.
I think this sense of entitlement comes from the academic segregation at our school, that exists really among the majority of large public high schools. With a large pool of students, unified school districts can only structure classes around the needs of a generalized population of students. They base a certain curriculum around the needs of the intellectually advanced student and not much attention is paid to regular placement classes. The pressure to take one or two advanced placement classes suddenly turns pressures an invitation into what I like to call the AP bubble, where an intense workload and long list of college level classes are the norm for every student. This is actually only a small minority of our school’s population, as some of these students forget. While there are students in this bubble who probably do deserve to have their minds challenged by an Ivy League education, the competitive nature of this bubble is easy to succumb to. Inevitably, teenagers will always compare themselves to one another. This situation is no different, however, the stakes are even higher with a future at stake. Make the decision for yourself based on your desires and strengths. There is nothing wrong with competition; but let’s please figure out what we’re competing for before we drive ourselves crazy.