Name: Pava LaPere
Year: Class of 2019
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Intended Path of Study: Cognitive Science
The Hardest Thing They Never Told You
At first, they told us it was the high school workload that would be the hardest part of getting into elite schools. Then they told us it was the standardized testing. Then it was the essays. Then it was the interviews. Finally, it was the wait.
At each step in the process, guidance counselors, parents, family friends, regular friends, and anyone with an opinion would chime in on what the hardest part of college admissions is. Though varied, the answers stayed mostly the same: the grades, the tests, the resumé. And for the most part, they were right. Seven AP’s classes sucked the soul out of me, president-ing a club while working a part-time job chipped away at my sanity, and sitting down for that awful 3 hour SAT pretty much threw me over the edge.
But while their advice was sound, it was also a lie. I didn’t realize this until after it was all done: until after the acceptances (eh, rejections) were opened, the enrollment deposit was payed, and my closet became 1/5 Blue Jay gear. Because the hardest part of going to college they never tell you about is, well, the going.
Maybe (probably) (hopefully) everyone was less oblivious than me; I thought that once all the college admissions stuff was over, it was a high-tide, good-time ride right up to the first day of classes at Hopkins. This summer was supposed to be the first in many years that lacked worrying about getting into college. But instead, I’ve spent the better part of the summer worrying about getting to college.
Oddly enough, the first time it hit me was when I was sitting on the ledge in my shower and realized that in four months, I would no longer have my trusty shower ledge. The Hopkins’ dorms won’t have a nice butt-shaped nook to collapse onto when I’m just too tired. Hopkins also won’t have the same squeak of my bed when I fall onto it just right, nor will Hopkins have my cat to wake me up at 3am because he wants a belly rub.
Hopkins won’t have the smell of our homes, it won’t have the greetings of our parents and siblings and pets as we get back from school. It won’t have our rooms, it won’t have our desks, or our fridges, or our plates, our glasses or spoons. And for some reason, it seemed like this information was new to me.
It’s not that I was blind to the fact that to go to college, I had to leave home (What? You can’t be in two places at the same time?) Rather, it was the realization of how much I would actually miss from home. The tiny things we never care to notice everyday are going to change, and only then will we notice them: the bounce of your bed, the knobs on your cabinets, the darn door that refuses not to squeak. No matter how you grew up, how your family was structured, how big or tall or old or small your house was, there is one thing that you can be sure about: Hopkins won’t be the same.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Soon, all of the things you love about home will have to share your heart with all of the things you love about Hopkins. Hopkins will become a new home, your dorm will become a new room, you will make new friends, new relationships, and learn to use new spoons. Replacing your old home with your new home and learning how to love both of those places is not a bad thing at all; it’s just a hard thing.
But I guess we’re used to hard. We made it through the AP and IB tests, the drafting and redrafting of essays, the uncomfortable college interviews in uncomfortable interview clothes. We did make it through the hard stuff to stake our claim at Hopkins, and that’s a feat to be proud of. Now, in these last few weeks before we start our journey there, the very last obstacle we have to conquer is saying goodbye— at least temporarily—to our old lives. (Well, that’s what I tell myself in order to sleep at night.)
I sincerely hope my fellow Class of 2019 Blue Jays are faring better than me, seeing I’m still at the point where I get teary-eyed (understatement) when Southwest sends me an email regarding my flight in August. But if not, all the better; we’re really in this together then. This is the growing up we were all-too-eager to face, and it’s time to face it. And while it’s new, exciting, overwhelming, and beautiful, it’s also hard. And that’s okay. We know how to do hard.