By Karley Bailey
Class of 2017
I walked into school five minutes late on a Wednesday morning with my eyebrows in a furrow and my eyes dreary from a mixture of sleep deprivation and crying the night before. I had gotten three hours of sleep because I worked a late shift and still half-attempted to study for an AP Calc quiz. I say “half-attempted” only because halfway through my study session I received a notification from the admissions office of a potential university. I was anxious, but eager enough to receive the news; yet when I opened the email the same dreadful anxiety flooded my mind. I had been waitlisted. What does being waitlisted mean? In simpler terms it means waiting two to three more months to see if I will be accepted or denied.
I wouldn’t have been as melancholy if this were the first school who offered me a place on their waitlist, but it was the third. The third school who couldn’t offer me a spot on their campus, unless someone better rejected theirs. Maybe this process isn’t as crappy as I’m projecting it to be, but the harsh reality of being “waitlisted” in this millennium is that people glorify acceptances in every platform possible. Adolescents are quick to post anything remotely interesting in their lives on social media, so subsequently I ground my teeth in despair as I tried to be an adult who smiles and praises their friends whose hearts soar in relief when receiving letters of acceptance to their dream schools. Again, “I tried to be an adult,” but to my dismay, I resorted to my juvenile ways and became envious of my peers’ newfound success and confidence that I profoundly desired.
Wednesday morning was no different. I strategically came to school tardy, solely to walk into class after the daily blabbering of housing plans and roommate arrangements came to an end. My eyes glanced at the traces of red expo-marker that occupied the uninviting whiteboard corner: “Double-Assembly Schedule.” I internally sighed knowing that it was probably something college related:more blabbering about college plans and more of those “last-minute” options for the kids like me.
It was no surprise when walking into the Sport’s Pavilion that the exceedingly hyped College Fair was an exact replica from last years’. The monotonous speeches about experiencing a new environment away from home, that one admission counselor who always dabs, the inviting appeal of school wide football chants. At one point I asked myself, “Wow. Why didn’t I apply there?” but I dismissed my regret and resorted to my attitude of perpetual nonchalance, and snickered with my friends about the cute counselor who struggled with the microphone.
I wanted to be intrigued by this display, knowing that I was deemed a responsibility of writing an article about my personal encounter with the College Fair. The truth is, the majority of seniors who applied to colleges applied to Cal States and UCs. There wasn’t any information regarding these schools, the schools my friends will be attending, the schools that are affordable, the schools where I want to be. Nonetheless there wasn’t any instruction on the process after applying: the denials, the acceptances, and the waitlists.
A year ago I attended the College Fair as a junior with high hopes and an immensely romanticized depiction of the college application process. I would seamlessly apply to an adequate amount of schools and four months later I would take a picture with my “#accepted” shirt. I had dreams of a new found freedom, a buoyant exit from my adolescence. These dreams still do exist even if they are buried under the false perceptions I once had of the application and admission processes.
Now being one year older having attended my second College Fair, it remains evident to me and the majority of the seniors, that college is glorified in the same way high school was to us as middle schoolers. Applying to colleges is excruciatingly time consuming regardless of there being an essay to write or not, regardless if it’s a Cal State, UC, or Common App., college fairs don’t glorify the trials of self-analyzation and remorse a high school senior encounters during the process. College fairs encourage us to apply to schools because they want us to achieve ultimate success; they portray college as the ultimate high school salvation.
Seniors in a situation like me find college talk daunting, but it’s necessary. Seniors in a situation where they have been accepted to their dream school find college talk useless, but it’s necessary. Seniors who haven’t been accepted anywhere find college talk heartbreaking, but it’s necessary. Seniors who didn’t apply to college are forced into multiple college talks that are “necessary.”
From a senior perspective, I find it necessary that we start acknowledging all seniors in each situation. Some dream of one day being the cliche college student they show in the slideshows, finding that milky haze of school spirit and altruism is unfathomably enticing. Yet there are others who sit solemnly in that full gymnasium of college recruiters feeling completely empty, an irrelevant murmur of their life. It is horrid to ask yourself as a high school senior: is there more to life after high school besides college?