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Application Anxiety

The last few weeks in summation.

I have officially finished applying to the University of Chicago, one day before the early action deadline. (A whole day! Aren’t you proud of me?) Now, I get to relax for one hour, do my calculus homework, try to come up with 30 new triond articles, plan my book for Nanowrimo, practice my flute for chair auditions, apply to my back-up schools, apply for 80 billion scholarships, get that haircut I needed to get a month ago, go trick-or-treating with my little brother, munch on Halloween candy, and hide under my blankets until mid-December when I find out if I got in or not.

Hopefully I did.

These last few weeks have been a nail-biting, monopoly-playing, caffeine-driven nightmare. A lot goes into applying to college. First, you have to pick a college. Luckily, I knew where I wanted to go in tenth grade. Of course now I have to pick some back-ups because I’ve aimed a bit high in prestige and price-range. As much as I think I would cry if I had to go anywhere else but Hogwarts School of Winter and Academic Masochism, I’m still applying to the university next door and the school my sister goes to.

After that, you get to fill out applications. Now of course, it sounds easy to talk about yourself and how you’ve spent your time the last four years- ordinary conversation, right? Ha. Sure, but colleges don’t care that you’ve had six boyfriends, made multiple facebook accounts, or even that you’ve spent hours on homework. They want to see that you’ve made the most of your time by joining any sports team your school offers, worked your butt off to do well in band, squeezed in a summer job or two, and, wait for it – here’s the big one – SERVICE. They could care less what you do for yourself; they want to know what you do for your “community”. This is the part where you push that integrity and humility aside, and subtley brag about all the things you do for other people by documenting volunteer work in “hours”. Granted, you might be a racist bully who knocks people down in the hallways and posts nasty messages on Facebook, but if you sold candy at school for charity, you’re a good citizen!

Yay.

The great thing about extracurriculars is that no matter how much time you spend on them, if you aren’t great at them, you still won’t get a scholarship. You have to audition. So if you play the flute, you’ve jumped 15 chairs since freshman year, you spend eight hours a week staying after school for marching band, you practice in all those six minutes of freetime you have and you STILL can’t beat those Asians out at All-West, nobody cares.

Reccomendations are the fun part of the application that you don’t get to see or perfect for yourself. You know what that means? Pick an English teacher. Or in my case, an English teacher and the IB coordinator. Intelligence is key. I also happened to pick the teachers that know me best- one that could tell you about all my relationship, moral, and academic problems, and another that knows there’s a hard-worker beneath my procrastination.

Then there’s the essay(s). Tell us about yourself, someone that influenced you, your favorite book, a significant experience, or what Play-doh has to do with Plato. Oh boy. This is the only part where you truly get to show YOUR character, your personality, your voice, your humor, your thoughts, your cares, and your realistic diversity that has nothing to do with the color of your skin. Now fit it into 500 words and make it sound AWESOME. They’ll skim through it once. If it doesn’t stand out, or if it stands out for the WRONG reason, it gets trashed. No pressure or anything. I wrote about shoes and a treehouse.

And now… I wait. Hopefully, those things listed in the first paragraph will serve as a big enough distraction to keep me from losing my mind and my nails this next month and a half. Anyone else that can relate to me right now, feel free to comment with your coping methods.

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