Entering the college vortex

I am not sure exactly how it happened, but this week I officially entered the college vortex.

That might seem an overdramatic way of putting it, but if you were in my position you might feel I had actually undersold it. I had my first college guidance meeting. I got a list of prospective colleges. I took the SAT. I started preparing for next weekend’s ACT. All of this is happening at once and it’s just one part of the whole process.

I feel like I am sort of numb. It doesn’t really even feel real yet.

I know that all of the “junior year hype” sounds as terrifying as being forced to test out a new space shuttle, but, until now, school felt just a little harder. Despite warnings from my friends who have completed eleventh grade, I was still not expecting my future to be laid out before to me on a computer screen with a list of colleges.

OK, maybe that was an exaggeration. But to say the least, I am SO stressed out.

Don’t be jealous, my dear readers, but last weekend I had the pleasure of taking the SAT for the first time. It was a truly memorable experience. Having four critical reading sections was a dream come true. And the math? Well, that was utter bliss.

After I finished last Saturday’s testing, it really hit me. I have now entered the college homestretch. I have also come to the conclusion that the only way to get into my dream school is by working hard. At this point, it all comes down to it.

Speaking on behalf of my classmates and fellow Greenwich juniors, I think that we can all agree that the phrase “just find a college that makes you happy” has become a most banal statement.

When I hear this, it just makes me more stressed. Although I want to believe that I will find the right “fit,” the other side of my conscience tells me that I must attend a “big name” school.

We constantly look at our transcripts, our previous tests and exams, looking at each letter grade to see if we have what it takes. We forget about which college matches our interests and instead are drawn towards the school with the “big name.”

Our brains are in a constant state of flux. One day, after you aced that AP test, you say to yourself, “Well, I’m Ivy bound” and pat yourself on the back. The next day, you get a B on an essay, and the mantra instantaneously becomes “I’m literally never getting into college. Someone please help me.”

It is this kind of hyperbole that psychs us out even more, and hinders our ability to find a clear path. As is commonly said, we are our own worst enemies. We constantly compare ourselves to others and think, “Am I that good?” We critique ourselves to the point where we lose sight of who we even are.

To avoid the pressure of failure we try to place ourselves on a higher level, and sometimes even sacrifice our own interests to what we think will stand out on a college résumé.

Unfortunately, I am the poster child for this condition. It is one of the most challenging aspects of the entire college process. We become so caught up in what the admissions officers might want that we forget what we want. Although it takes time, the hope is that we can find our niches and discover our inner passion for who we want to become as college students.

So, to all those juniors out there starting to begin the college process, try to think positively, work hard, and remember who you want yourself to become.


Sarah Jackmauh is a junior at Convent of the Sacred Heart.

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