Juniors, Don’t Waste a Four Leaf Clover on a College Acceptance

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Danielle Martin Co-Editor-in-Chief When I was younger, my neighbor and I spent our summers in a nearby field of clovers. As we grazed the park for a four-leaf clover, we pondered what wish we’d make. One day, I’d wish for a chance to meet Belle from Beauty and The Beast; the next, a family trip to Disney World; the following, an endless supply of cookie dough ice cream. Although we’d return home with grass stained knees and empty hands, we always resumed our search the next day, wishing for something completely different. For the past year, though, had I stumbled upon that fourth leaf, my wish would’ve been the same every day: a college acceptance. Of course, there were other things that I wanted: to advance to the state tournament with my soccer team, to have the entire school come to a Forum meeting, to run into Leonardo DiCaprio during my visit to Los Angeles. Still, I wanted a college acceptance more. Flooded with essays, tests, the nostalgia of leaving Latin, and, I’ll say it, the terrible year that was 2016, I reached a breaking point where I rationalized that getting into college would solve all of my other problems. To be fair, I can’t completely blame myself for this state of mind; when asked, the majority of the senior class said they shared this belief at one point or another during their process. Society fools us into thinking that the college that we attend somehow defines our intellectual capabilities or, worse, our self worth. Every time I walked through my dad’s office, visited my extended family, or caught up with a classmate I hadn’t seemed in a while, December 15th came up, the day my decision would come out—and with it, waves of anxiety. When something is consistently the first topic of any conversation, it’s difficult to not let it consume you. So, for the past year, it’s seemed as though our lives as seniors have revolved around December 15th or whatever day we were granted access to our admissions portal.   The dreaded December 15th arrived, and for me, it was a good day. I got into college. That night, I slept better than I had all year: the twitch I had developed in my left eye from sleep deprivation disappeared, and I could no longer feel lines creasing my forehead. A college acceptance, I thought, would grant me eternal happiness. But, trust me, it doesn’t.  Juniors, for the next year, your parents, teachers, and college counselors are going to tell you the same thing, but most of you aren’t going to listen. Maybe you’ll chalk it up to acceptance rates being lower since when they applied or to the cliché teenage response that “adults just don’t get it.” So take it from me, a senior who’s just wrapping up her college process: getting into college isn’t everything. I woke up on December 16th with only one thought: What the hell are we doing? The year you spend in the college process is like every other in that life still happens. Siblings celebrate birthdays and grandparents get sick, wide-eyed freshmen enter the school and senior friends graduate, teachers give seemingly impossible tests and, yes, colleges require applications. If you only focus on the last of those things, you’ll miss out on the others, the good and the bad. Worse, if your only goal is to get into college, you’ll be presenting a fabricated existence that doesn’t represent the person you are at heart. I know that I could’ve found that school without all of the college rant sessions in the senior lounge, the social pressures to reveal where I was applying in the library, and fielding questions about my GPA and my test scores and my common app essay. It’s more difficult a task to convince those around you to quit stressing than to quit stressing yourself. Had I avoided all that added pressure in Latin’s social climate, maybe then, I’d feel closer to the happiness you think you’re supposed to feel when you get into a college that fits you, that you wish for. I haven’t been to a clover field since the age of seven. In fact, the one across from my house no longer exists, but if it did, I’d go back. Every day. And I’d wish for the same thing every day, but it wouldn’t be a college acceptance. If I stumbled upon that fourth leaf, I would wish for more time, because as juniors and seniors at Latin, we waste so much of it wishing for a college acceptance.]]>