Applying or Buying?

I spent $410 last week. No, I didn’t go shopping. No, I didn’t buy all my Christmas presents at once. No, I didn’t have to pay for medical bills.

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I spent $410 on college apps within only a week.

I understand that having to pay some amount of money, to make sure that the people applying to schools actually mean it, and that it takes work to read through my applications and make their decisions. But, why should I have to pay $180 to send my AP scores to the colleges that I might not even get in to?

Personally, I have been able to spend that money on my applications. I didn’t like it, obviously, but I was fine. But, there are enough people in this country that don’t have those $410 to gamble with.

We all know that many families aren’t able to send their children to college because of the insane tuitions. But now, imagine not even being able to apply to the school of your dreams because it is too expensive. I know some people can get fee waivers, but even the fact that this is necessary freaks me out a bit.

I see the reasoning behind all the costs. I see why it would be necessary. I just want to point out how flawed all this is, if you think about it.

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The Middle Layer

I have never been the smart one in a group. In my close friend group, I definitely am not. Out of my siblings, my sister has always had better grades than me. In most of my classes, I tend to be just about average.

I’m not saying that I am stupid, because I know that’s not true. But, I usually feel like I am, as I said, just average.

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I haven’t ever really had an issue with that in the past. I’m fine not being the best, the smartest, because that always gives me a reason to improve. I think it might even be good for me to control my competitiveness.

But, this is my senior year. This is the time for me to apply to the colleges I am dying to go to. This is the time for me to show them that I deserve to get that acceptance letter and hit that enroll button on May 1st. But, how do I deserve that, when I am just average?

My grades are okay. My SAT is less than I would like it to be. My essays are a little whack. Will that be enough? Will the college readers recognize some unique spark in my application or will they, with no second thoughts, throw me on the mediocre applicants pile?

I know that instead of complaining about all this, I should probably work on my college essays, study for the next SAT, and maybe start that assignment that’s due tomorrow. Even if I do, well, I will probably still be average.

A Senior Rant

So, just a thought: when you know that the first semester of senior year is already ultimate hell as it is, don’t try and stuff more work into it by moving the Senior Seminar into the first semester!

I know that there is probably some reason behind it that makes some kind of sense, but I just don’t know it. Just saying, it wasn’t the smartest move.

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In these upcoming months, we now not only have to apply to colleges, perfect out SAT and ACT scores, and  try and boost our grades as much as possible, but we’re also going to have to try and get our entire senior project done by March. I know that, essentially, it doesn’t make a huge difference time-wise for most people, because, let’s be honest, we’ll most likely all procrastinate anyways. But, I know that there are also some people that have already planned on having an entire school year to finish their projects because that’s simply how much time they need.

I know that I should probably be writing college essays right now instead of ranting about something I can’t change anyways, but this is just one of those things that make me want to bury myself six feet underground. Gotta love being a senior!

College and Its Struggles

Now that I enter the final phases of the college process, I look back at the godawful endeavor that it has been. While many people will tell you that these sorts of things teach and make you stronger, I could have gone without that lesson.

Now let me make it clear, I am very happy where I ended up. In the Fall it looks that I will be attending Chapman University. It is a great school and I am lucky to go there.

But what it took to get there was frankly hell. From the amount of work required on the applications during a busy part of senior year to the pains of the financial aid process, it has been an experience to forget.

My advice towards those who have not yet experienced the joy of applying is this:

1. Start Early. This makes life a lot easier for you and your family. If you can have an idea of the type of college (eg. small, big, east coast, west coast, etc.) you want to go to by the end of the summer before senior year you are on a good track. This will allow you to pick out schools you really want to go to and not stress out which ones you are applying to.

2. Be on the same page. A key to the college process is communication between the student, their parents and the college adviser. Make sure that all parties know of the general expectations and plans at all times. This ensures more productivity and less fights/homicides.

3. Be realistic. The worst thing you can do is think you are built for Stanford when you really should be going to a state school. There is nothing wrong with going to a college, no matter which one you choose. But save yourself and the admissions offices some time and choose schools within your range. Still apply to reach schools and safeties, but don’t shoot for the stars with a bottle rocket.

4. Save Save Save. Some people may have a healthy money tree in their backyard but if that is not the case then start saving now. As much as you think you are going to get those scholarships or “it will all work out” chances are you want to avoid being 100k in debt when you graduate. Save what you can and go over what you can really afford before you chose a college. Again, be realistic about what you can do and find the best option for your money.

There are parts to the college game you just have to find out as you go. Work hard in school and prepare and it will be as easy as possible. I am not saying it will be easy because quite frankly I haven’t been hearing any of my friends say what an easy process it was.

But with hard work and maybe some luck you can end up in a good college where you can really succeed and have a good time while doing it. That is the end goal and it is attainable with work.