June 9, 2017

College Craziness: Advice to Rising Juniors

Alex Beigelman ‘18

College is considered a crucial level of education that is needed to get a decent job and live a happy life. For many students at GOA, getting into college is the mission of a lifetime and requires absolute perfection. There exists a craze around the college admissions process that has driven much of the student body into four years of excessive stress and worrying.
College admission is a complex process that often wants SATs or ACTs, subject tests, grades, recommendations, demonstrated interest, APs, essays and more. It may seem daunting, as though colleges are only accepting perfect students and you need to be perfect, too. This is insane. Nobody is perfect and you shouldn’t take four years of your life to stress out about being as close to perfect as possible.
Allow yourself to enjoy high school and don’t be too hard on yourself. In our school, we are incredibly competitive with grades and scores. Don’t go crazy trying to get a 1600 on your SATs because your friend got a 1520 and don’t stay up until 2:00 a.m. trying to get an A+ on some test because two of your friends got a 97 while you only got a 93. Do what you can but don’t waste a year of your life trying to be the best student ever.
“Especially for us at GOA, … the pressure is so high,” junior Alissa Lampert said, “and this just creates a cycle of stress.”
Strive for your best but accept that you can’t be perfect.
An important lesson for all rising juniors, like junior Carly Mast advised, “take everything one step at a time… everything will work out just fine.” Don’t think that you need to have your college list and have all your test scores done by December. There is time to do all of it and, although it may seem like a daunting list of things to do before you apply to colleges, you have plenty of time.
There is a hype around which college people attend. So many people strive for big name schools over all else and this is ridiculous. People need to relax about which college they attend. Dr. Denise Kanrich, the GOA college guidance counselor, stresses that you should go where you feel comfortable and somewhere that fits what you want in your college experience. Don’t waste your high school experience trying to impress schools that you wouldn’t be happy at.
Kanrich had also told us that the education you get is similar at many schools, so in a way, it really doesn’t matter much. Do what you enjoy and attend a college that will make you happy, no need to strive for anything more.
“There is a perception… that where [you] are accepted into college is the be all and end all and that it determines the rest of [your] life as well as how ‘good’ or ‘smart’ of a person [you] are,” junior Sam Russo said. “This, of course, only makes students more stressed.”
If you are dreading junior year, know this: It’s stressful but you determine how stressful it will be. You can choose to do what makes you happy, taking classes and doing extracurriculars that you enjoy, or you can waste the year trying to get a 36 on the ACT, a five on four AP exams and a 4.0 GPA in order to impress some elitist school somewhere in Massachusetts.
“[The process is] blown out of proportion,” sophomore Michelle Bilmes said.
Kanrich will send you over 50 emails over the course of junior year, all labeled college guidance and filled with dates, school names, reminders to take tours and more. Don’t take it so seriously. Again, be responsible and do what you can throughout this process, but don’t take down every date. There’s no need to go to every meeting with an admissions counselor and don’t feel pressured to have your life planned out by the end of the first quarter.
It all works out in the end and like junior Noah Brown said, “I’m not one of those people touring colleges and taking ACTs at the end of sophomore year. I know that wherever I end up, I’ll be happy.”
Junior year may not be the most fun of years, but there’s no need to make it hell on earth. Do what makes you happy and strive for your best without giving in to the pressures around you to be perfect. It’ll all work out in the end and the college you’ll attend will give you a great experience and a fine education in whatever area of study you enjoy. Don’t destroy your high school experience trying to attain perfection and don’t live under the impression that college is the most important thing in your life. I went through junior year with this mindset and it wasn’t right.

Just relax a little bit. It’s going to be okay.

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