College Admissions: A Hypocritical and Mental Sham?


Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Tomiwa Adegbite, Staff Writer

Four years. Taking AP Classes and Exams. Four years. Practicing for SAT or ACT tests. Four years. Building the near-perfect resume through extracurricular activities, summer programs, and those alike. We have built students these days on the fact that you need to do everything in your power to have the best grades, test scores, and activities. While these factors play a key role in determining acceptance or rejection, the schools apparently want to see a more personal side of yourself through the application process.

By this point most of the seniors have seen at least one college essay prompt asking them, “Why do you want to attend X School?” or “Why do you want to study Y major?” and while these questions may have good intentions behind them, they don’t tell an admissions officer anything personal. Most students worry so much about how AOs perceive these essays that they lose almost all the original authenticity that makes them unique. This judgment only puts further pressure on the student and doesn’t allow any uniqueness or passion to shine through what they type.

Not to mention that they could use questions to incite the use of past trauma or powerful emotions as a bargaining chip, almost. For example, a past Common App essay prompts reads: “The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?” At face value, it seems like a pretty generic comeback story, but the question is a little ineffective at what it’s trying to gain from the writer. College is all about your future, what you do with it, and how it’ll grow your individuality. Why dwell on and relive these past events when we should focus on what’s right in front of us. Yes, learning from our mistakes makes us a better person, but you can only hold on to what’s already gone for so long.

As for the students themselves, the entire process from start to finish is just one long rollercoaster you couldn’t be happier to get off of. “I’m tired… just so much to do in so little time.” says one Hillcrest senior. With prestigious institutions’ acceptances, rates getting lower and the prominence of stress and anxiety in teens getting higher, I think it’s about time we ask ourselves if that acceptance letter is really worth it. Based on a 2019 and 2020 study, it showed that “37% of high schoolers reported clinically significant depression and just under 40% of high school and college students reported clinically significant anxiety… Today’s teenagers are carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders; stress about debt, college, and larger global issues that have been inflamed by the uncertainty and loss surrounding the pandemic,” said Amanda DoAmaral, Co-founder and CEO of Fiveable.

We seriously need to consider the practicality of college admissions and if reformation is an option on the table. We shouldn’t be prioritizing the big fancy letter and Ivy League name over the stress we put on ourselves and those around us.