Everything Wrong With College Apps


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Blank college application on a desktop. Artwork created by the photographer.

Molly Briggs, Editor In Chief

As you may know, it’s college application time for seniors. For the last four months, we’ve been going through the worst. Along the way, I’ve learned many things that I had been unaware of about the college application process, and there were many things that I couldn’t believe were real. For seniors, take this as a small ranting session, but for underclassmen, it’s time to pop that little bubble of bliss and learn the reality of college applications:

  1. People are saying that colleges now have a “holistic” application process, where they consider the student as a whole instead of just academically. But, there are plenty of colleges where that is a myth. Some kids just aren’t the best test takers, even though they can have a great GPA and take lots of challenging classes. Despite this, there are still schools that will not care about you if your test score is below the cutoff.
  2. You have to PAY to just SUBMIT your application (and it’s a LOT of money too!). Applying to college can cost almost 100 dollars PER COLLEGE, and if you are applying to twelve it adds up very quickly. It’s bad enough that we have to pay a ridiculous amount of money every year once we’re in college, but we also have to pay just for them to consider us? And that’s not even taking into account the amount of money to send in your test scores!
  3. Colleges will tell you they want you just to reject you later. Colleges want to seem very selective and keep that low acceptance rate, so they want you to apply to allow them to reject more people. Everytime I get one of the hundreds of college pamphlets in the mail or the thousands of college emails bombarding my inbox saying “we want YOU,” I want to SCREAM.
  4. Somehow, you go into senior year thinking ‘I just have to get my Common App essay done, and I’ll be in the clear!’ Then you open up the Common App and realize you have at least one supplemental essay for most schools, and even up to TWELVE for others. Once it’s mid-November and you’re working on your tenth supplemental essay, the information definitely gets repetitive. The amount of “Why us?” essays I’ve had to write make me want to, again, SCREAM.
  5. College tours don’t give you a real idea of what it would be like at that college. Yes, I recommend you go to visit the colleges you’re thinking about because they’re very useful to see the campus in person and they have lots of information about the curriculum and the housing situation, but you never really find out a lot more than what you can find online. Even if you make it a point to ask your tour guide more questions, they probably won’t tell you what they really think about something, considering they’re getting paid to get you to apply to the school. They’ll always downplay a negative and make the positives seem like the best advantages in the world. Tours turn out to be more like a marketing tool than a way to find out what student life is really about.
  6. Students are forced to spend all their time (and a lot of money) preparing for applying to college instead of actually preparing for college itself. Whether it’s the hours spent taking practice tests, the money you pay for a SAT tutor, the time you spend drafting essay after essay, or the time spent on extracurricular activities that you do not because you enjoy them, but because it will ‘look good on a college application,’ students spend way too much time preparing for and stressing over applications.
  7. You can be perfectly qualified, or even more than qualified, to get in somewhere, but they STILL can reject you. Because they want to keep their acceptance rate low to seem all the more prestigious, they could have two similar students and may just accept one, even if the other was just as qualified. They also might reject you simply because they see the other schools you’re applying to and don’t think that you’ll actually go to theirs. Students should be able to get into the colleges that they deserve to go to, regardless of a stupid acceptance rate!