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.

Photo Credit:  theroarpost.com

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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I Don’t Know

With SATs only a couple days away, only one question has constantly tainted my mind.

Where do I want to go to college?

These last several months I thought I was certain that NYU was the only school for me. I would apply early decision, and then I’d wait to see whether I’d be accepted to the university of my dreams. There, I’d immerse myself into the greatest city in the world. I’d study journalism or political science on a pre-law track. I’d study in artsy coffee shops with a group of my best friends during early mornings, and I’d go to Times Square during late nights. I couldn’t imagine a better city to spend the next several years of my life.

It’s been my dream since I was a little girl.

But the more I thought about it, was that really what I wanted? Yes… Well, maybe. I thought so.

I thought I was ready to leave all my friends and family on the west coast.

I thought I was ready to leave my horses behind while I blindly chased my dreams in the biggest city in the world. I never wanted anything more in my life. My horse would be waiting for me when I came back. He’d understand. I have dreams I need to follow.

But was I ready to go from the small towns I’ve known my whole life to the crowded, noise deafening streets of NYC? I dream about it every night. I dream about never being bored; never running out of exciting ways to spend my nights, even in the most minimalistic ways.

Was I ready to move from a small, rural school with only 120 students, to a large university with over 20,000 students? Yes. I want to walk onto my campus and see a new face I’ve never seen before. I want to meet a new person with a completely different life than mine, and I want to learn from them. I want to be in a place so large I can meet a new person everyday, where I can learn a new thing about a new topic from a new person everyday. I want to be another face in the crowd, but I also want the outlet where I can become a memorable face in that same crowd I merely pass through.

But was I ready to give up everything I’ve known my whole life? The only thing I’ve known my whole life? I don’t know.

Photo Credit: bgia.bard.edu

I thought I knew. I always liked being the one in my friend group who could proudly say I had my whole future planned out, but now I don’t know. I can’t tell if I’m willing to settle for FaceTiming my friends instead of seeing them face to face. How could I possibly give up horseback riding for months at a time? The one passion that has made me excited for the end of the day. The passion I have put hours of tears, sweat, and money into in return for infinite feelings of happiness and an invaluable bond with another animal.

I thought I had the answers to all the questions I’m asking myself right now, but I realized I don’t, and there’s still so many questions that I haven’t even started comprehending yet.

What I do know is that I’m ready for college. As much as I love OVS for shaping me into the person I am today, I’m ready for a new chapter in my life. I may only be a junior, but I’m ready to go out on my own and find out my purpose in this world. Maybe I’ll find out NYU won’t be the school for me, or maybe I’ll find out that there’s no better match, but I’ll find that out sooner or later.

college day dreams

I’m a sophomore, far enough away from college, but ever since I was in the seventh grade, all anyone’s been asking me during family reunions or Christmas is college questions.

When you’re younger you feel like you have no weight on your shoulders and have your whole life to figure these things out, but now as I’m sitting in the Journalism room, staring at the college counseling books stacked on the brown shelf in front of me, varying in different sizes, holding the futures of so many students, I realize that I have no idea what I want to do. I then turn to my left and see the wheel of felt college banners shaped in a circle which are where many students go and will continue to go.

My family has all these big life plans for me, which sound great and all, but I’m not sure that’s what I want.

And everything matters now, these are the final years before adulthood, where every mistake you make, every bad test grade you receive, every thing you say and write matters; your whole life is being documented.

Photo Credit: arabamericannews.com

This begins to make me think.

As I’m sitting in my living room staring at the French doors which open to my courtyard, filling out applications for college summer programs all over the country, I’m trying to write about myself as a student and about my life, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

This makes me realize how much I haven’t done in life; I’m finally transferring out of my childhood, out of my adolescence, leaving my past behind as I take on the next chapter in my life.

I watch all the movies where life seems to fall into place for so many people, and their whole life is figured out. They go on a date with their dream boy, and lie beneath the stars staring up into the heavens picturing what their life could be together, but I haven’t had that, and who knows if I ever will.

You never realize how much is passing you by, and how many opportunities you’re missing.

Dear College Reader…

On the paper/computer application in front of you is me, or at least all you get to see of me before you deem me good enough or not.

It takes you 650-1000+ words for you to supposedly understand who I am, who I know myself to be and who I want to be. Yes, I wrote the words, I told you the stories, I’ve built from what I have in me, who I think I’m supposed to be. I’ve compressed seventeen years of life into eight or nine paragraphs expressly for your viewing pleasure.

But, reader, this one is different, this one will tell a different story because what you don’t see in the typical “What have you done to better your community” and “What is your passion” supplements (which have a strong undercurrent of “be impressive, we’re watching you”),  are the long nights, the tears and disgusting tissues, the pacing, the self-judgment, the pain of feeling so insanely inadequate that every achievement feels like a trivial pursuit or worse- a lie.

Painting Credit: Antoine Stevens

I’m here to tell you that I am more than just 1000 words. I am an incomplete but also fully whole person, and that I have not a f*$%^&g clue who I am, who I’m going to be.

I feel as if for the past six months I have been folding, bending, and working against every instinct I have to somehow force myself into a two dimensional version of myself.

I don’t blame you reader because you will remember that I am a person — a breathing person who worries and is bad at things, who is vain, loves shopping and small trivial things, is selfish and is trying all the time to be good enough for my friends, family, and the opportunities I’ve been granted — behind that application. I hope.

I have hidden behind pseudo-confidence and humor the fact that I am terrified of not being as good as I think I am, that my secret fear, that everyone lies to me when they say I’m good at something to spare my feelings, will be true.

I am terrified to have my future rest in the hands of someone else, because it rests in your hands. I’m scared that what you see on those applications is not the best me because I couldn’t get the right words out.

If I’m completely honest with you, reader, applying to college has made me feel like crap. Everyone else seems to have things figured out, they’re writing easy but I can’t remember how it was to breath without feeling like an anvil is sitting on my chest, without typing triple letters because my hands are shaking so badly.

I don’t know what I want and I don’t know what you and the college you represent want, but I just pray that I am what you want.

I hope that my sleepless nights, my years of homework, my work, my words, my bending and near breaking, my near misses, my wins, my losses, all my books, my stories, my short mostly un-lived life is enough for you, even if you don’t get to see all that in my edited, word pinched application.

Please let me be enough.

A Montage

I suppose this is the end. My last blog. The last post I write, and the last one I publish. The last piece of writing I do for Ojai Valley School – the place that has taught me how to write.

I came to school my freshman year having written essays before, but only formal, structured pieces for English class. I’ve always been one to write down my thoughts – I carry around a journal and have always documented my raw emotions. But before coming to OVS, I had never shared my writing with others.

Freshman year, I sat down in my first Humanities class, unaware of the flood of writing to come. Reading journals galore, I had little blurbs of writing due once or twice a week. Those reading journals were analytical, but they allowed me to delve into my thoughts and share my own interpretation of the material – something I had never done for school before.

And I think those reading journals, back in freshman year Humanities, bridged the gap between writing for myself and writing for school. And that allowed me to delve into Journalism, which introduced me to writing for others.

Fast forward four years. Here I am, at the end of senior year. Freshman year, I learned the value of my own thoughts in writing. And sophomore year, when I started taking Journalism, I truly learned the wonder of writing. I found my voice, and learned how to tell stories. I learned how to paint pictures of other people’s accomplishments and what goes on around campus. I learned to blog – to write metaphorically, and to eloquently share my deepest, most honest emotions. I truly learned to put my thoughts into words, and to fearlessly share them with the world.

So, again, here I am, writing my last blog post. I have written all sorts of blog posts over the past three years – ones that are funny, sad, sarcastic and honest. And now I have to wrap it up. This is the last thing I will write this year, for any class. The last bit of work I do before I graduate, the last bit of work I do in high school.

That’s pretty crazy.

Today is Wednesday, May 31st. On Friday, June 2nd, I graduate. I’m beyond excited, but also terrified. It doesn’t feel real. I always knew I’d get to this point, but now that I’m here it’s hard to grasp. It’s hard to believe that it’s me. I’m about to graduate high school. I’m about to be in college.

I can’t believe I made it. I know that’s a cliché thing to say, but I really mean it. These past four years have been pretty hectic. But here I am. T minus two days and I’ll be walking across the stage.

And I can’t wait.

I’m sad to be leaving – OVS has done so much for me and I’m going to miss it. All my friends, all my teachers, they’re going to be hard to leave. But OVS has prepared me well for college, and now I’m ready to move forward.

So goodbye and thank you to OVS, to Journalism, and all the writing I’ve done here. It’s the end of an era, and a great one too.

T minus two days.

Photo Credit: i.huffpost.com

College (and Life!) Bound

There comes a time in every senior’s career when they have to start picking colleges. Now, I’m far from being a senior, but I started thinking about colleges after going to the East Coast during spring break. Through all my time thinking about location, majors, and programs, one thing has stuck with me.

my dog eating a tangerine
Photo Credit: breakthroughmiami.org

How are we, as children, supposed to decide the course of our lives? When someone chooses a college, they chose their connections, their future job opportunities, and many other hidden factors. When we choose a major, we cut off most of our time to explore other subjects of thought.

Picture this: You walk in to Ms. Oberlander and Mr. Alvarez’s college meeting.  You sit down, take out your laptop, and open Naviance. You take a look at the colleges you’re thinking about. UCSB, Chapman, Harvard, or Yale. You have your target schools, but you know in your heart you’re dying to go to your reach school. You raise your hand to go to the bathroom, interrupting Ms. Oberlander’s speech about freedom.

It’s a little ironic. When most students go to college, they don’t know how to handle themselves. Just three months before freshman orientation, they still had to ask to use the restroom. They still had their parents doing their laundry and making them dinner. Teachers still told them how to dress, how to act. At OVS, we have the unique opportunity to learn some of the skills most college students lack so that we are more prepared to take on this new challenge.

However, OVS (and any school for that matter) can’t prepare us for what’s out there. It can’t prepare you for the choice between going to class or playing video games. It can’t prepare you for the people who will hurt you or how to make friends. They can only cross their fingers and hope you succeed.

Working at McDonald’s

Photo Credit: twitter.com

Most of the young people who have just graduated college are trying to find jobs to get experience. There is one place to work where they teach teamwork and how to be a leader. That place is called McDonald’s, which may be surprising to most of you out there.

A lot of people think that if they get into a good college like Stanford, Harvard, UCI, etc… they will automatically get a high earning job. Yes that happens to a few young adults, but sorry to break it to you, most of us here are not part of that select few. Most of us are most likely to end up working at a fast food restaurant, and  McDonald’s is good for experience and to learn what teamwork really means.