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May the Force be with you.

Posted by Josh G. on November 6, 2010

In the next few blog posts, the HI bloggers will be posting on a common blog topic.  The topic this time around is thoughts and reflections on our own experiences during the application process.  We’ve all been there (some of us are doing it again with grad school) and know what it’s like so we’re here to offer you anecdotes and advice to help you along the way.


I think the college admissions process was more stressful for my parents (read: mom) than it was for me.  I knew I was going to get in somewhere.  And I made sure to apply to only schools that I’d be happy attending.  The search was long and tedious.  Many a college book that I couldn’t pass off to my younger brother is still stowed away in my bedroom.  It was an exciting and nerve-racking time.  For me, when decisions were released in March, I had a choice between a few of my schools.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make.  Even after finally deciding on Hopkins, I had some buyer’s remorse for a little while.  But ever since I got to school, I knew that I had made the right decision (or at least a very good decision).  I think approaching the whole process with an open mind and the notion that you’re going to end up at a college that you enjoy is important.

The college search is a daunting task though. So here’s some advice.

Three things the admissions process is like:

1) Dating

  • I made a previous post about this.  (see: “You Had Me at Hello”)  But for those of you who don’t want to click, I’ll sum it up.  Selecting a college works kind of like match.com or other dating websites (or really more just like dating in general since we don’t use objectivity for the most part in either).  There are factors of compatibility that we use to figure out what school is the best for us.  Finding the perfect college is like finding your soulmate.

2) Eating at a restaurant

There's still time to be a kid in college.

  • Think about the questions you ask yourself when you eat out somewhere.  Where do you want to eat?  What type of place do you want to go to?  How much does it cost?  How good is it?  What have you heard about that place?  How hard is it to get in?  These take little or no alteration to see how they apply to the college search.

3) A Talent Show

  • You enter.  You prep for weeks, even months.  (Sometimes there’s a fee.)  Your nerves grow exponentially.  You parade around with the other entrants, showcasing your best talents and covering up your blemishes.  Every mistake will be scrutinized later if you don’t succeed.  Your parents look on with great hope – some living vicariously through their children.  Everyone has different talents that aren’t really comparable.  And then after it’s all over, you sort of forget what all the hype was about a week later.

Three things the admissions process is not like:

1) War

  • It’s not life or death.  You will survive no matter what.  There is no reason to drive yourself to the brink of madness (or beyond) over college applications.  Everything you could have done is really over by the time you send in your app – and really a lot of it is in the books even before that.  You aren’t competing against others either.  In a sense you are, but really, if you’re good enough to get in, a school with take you.  So just give your best effort and don’t worry about anyone else.

2) A Math Problem

  • Now, I’m not a numbers guy.  But I do know one thing about math (I think).  There are typically specific steps to get to a concrete solution.  This is not the case with college admissions.  Every applicant is different.  Everyone can get in a different way.  You have grades, essays, extracurriculars, hobbies, etc. to examine.  Some people do cancer research in high school.  Others, like myself and other average high schoolers, didn’t do anything outrageously special.  They are just pretty good students and somewhat interesting (ranging from uniquely strange to incredibly captivating) people.  There is no single way to get into college.

    I don't know what this means but it looks mathy. (From WSE site)

3) The Movies

  • You will not drive 8 hours to convince the Dean that you should get in.  Your high school will not send the wrong transcript.  SATs are not as important as pop culture makes them out to be.  College tours will not be led by strange and overly-honest guides.  The tour guides will also not be irrationally peppy or emotionally unstable.  Your parents won’t embarrass you as much as you think they will.  You will not sneak into a college party on your overnight, pose as a student, and subsequently make out with a college girl.  The Mac guy cannot start his own fake college.  As much as it pains me to say, movies aren’t real life.  No crazy antics will ensue.  You just click submit on your application or send off your big envelope, and that’s it.  You wait.  You hear back.  You decide where you want to go.  And you go.  Sorry.

Just remind yourself that in a few months, this will all be over with, and you’ll be getting ready to settle in to your cramped dorm room and meet your roommate and eat the same food every day and love every second of it.

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