Throughout all four years of high school, the subject of college always managed to twist my stomach and generate a profound feeling of uncertainty and fear of the unknown. As a fourth quarter senior on the brink of crossing the finish line and taking the next step towards independence, I’ve realized upon reflection that high school is a mind-boggling experience from an academic and social standpoint. Students are constantly searching to make the ‘right’ decisions and avoid the ‘wrong’ ones in order to fulfill their highest potential. The buildup and hype about receiving an acceptance letter from any college has become such an intimidating and highly over exaggerated monster that underclassmen need to realize is not living under their bed.
I am the kind of person who thrives off of “going with the flow.” As this can often be frustrating for my parents, it seems as though it has worked out pretty well. My college application process was highly unusual, particularly within Lake Forest’s high-achieving community. Having witnessed two older siblings drudge through the application process and the disappointment of dream school rejections and placements on waitlists, I made up my mind to approach the whole college process with a different mindset.
I applied to three schools total — two of which I was actually considering. None of these schools required essay submissions, and because I didn’t see the point in applying anywhere else, I avoided the Common Application completely. Both my GPA and ACT scores were just about average, if not a little below. Of course, this worried me throughout my High School years given that my friends were determined to raise their ACT scores above a 30, while I could hardly keep my eyes open for the duration of the exam. Regardless, I was accepted into a college that I love and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
Ultimately, I want to advise all underclassmen, including Juniors, that a college acceptance letter is not the mountain of impossibility that everyone makes it out to be, and it’s okay to be average. Any member of the Senior class will tell you that it isn’t worth your time to stress and focus so much on increasing your odds of getting into college that you ultimately end up taking away from your High School experience. There are thousands of quality colleges within the United States and beyond aside from the staple names you hear constantly floating through LFHS and lingering along your Facebook feed. You don’t need a top rated school to prove a higher level of achievement to yourself or anyone else.
There is a home for everybody, it’s only a matter of time before you find your own.