Iz Getting in Really the Hardest Part?

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Iz Gius  Say you’re a senior who’s just decided on your college. Congratulations! You order a shirt and all kinds of gear, maybe put it in your Instagram bio. And then you receive an email telling you to send a picture for your ID, or to begin choosing your classes for next year, or in my case, to begin an application for a Tier 4 Student Visa. You receive notices that if your grades slip second semester, your acceptance could be rescinded. You might visit your chosen school, and tour guides and professors will begin to talk to you about career prospects and contact hours and workload. It doesn’t seem to add up—finally deciding on a university opens up a whole new set of responsibilities and stress, not vice versa (and not the way it tends to be perceived). I think there’s a real problem—and it’s not unique to Latin or to our college counseling office, by any means—about how we conceptualize the college application and decision process. There’s this fantasy among the upperclassmen that once your college applications are submitted, school becomes a breeze; or as soon as you make a decision and put down a deposit, the rest of your senior year is stress-free. I certainly bought into it. I couldn’t wait to roll up to school second semester, forty minutes late to long block, sweats head-to-toe. And that’s not entirely untrue, but it’s a vast oversimplification. And ultimately, an unhealthy one. Here’s an unfortunate truth, one that was certainly a surprise to me: getting into college isn’t the hard part. The hard part is what comes after—adjusting to life in a new environment and with new people, or trying to keep up your GPA, or deciding on a major, or even grad school applications and interviews and internships. And by placing college decisions at the very end of some kind of success tunnel, we’re making a serious mistake. The very idea of “senioritis” ignores the fact that college is just four years of more (and most likely, more challenging) academics. The pressure we place on college admissions allows us to be completely blindsided by the reality of higher education, and the possibilities beyond it. I’m not trying to say that our futures are full of nothing but work. College is an amazing experience, and will allow us to learn and grow in countless ways beyond academics. We’ll likely have less hours of school, less busy work and less required classes, while granted more independence. And there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a break after a difficult semester of work, or taking advantage of the opportunity to learn, without real concern for final grades—in fact, it’s probably a great way to avoid burn out, and to enjoy your last months here. But I think the “giving up” mentality that the culture around Latin encourages for your second semester senior year is really dangerous. If we continue to think of life as cycles of hard work followed by cycles lacking motivation and enthusiasm, then we’re not prepared at all for the world ahead.]]>