Stop And Smell The Roses

Submitted by ashley on Sun, 03/13/2011 - 12:33am

By this time of year, high school seniors can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The staggered January deadlines for regular decision applications have come and gone, and now, in theory, there’s nothing to do but wait for a few months. Of course, this is always easier said than done.


One of my students recently complained that the rigorous momentum of his senior fall had flat lined, leveling off into an infuriating plateau. He bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t have his much-deserved crescendo until the spring decision letters started pouring in, and even then, there was no guarantee of good news.


Although it’s been nearly a decade since I endured this waiting period, I still remember it vividly. For months, seniors adhered to an unspoken moratorium on college gear, refusing to wear their favorite t-shirts lest they jinx themselves. In the hallways, my classmates’ facial expressions would oscillate between grief and elation as they envisioned the two possible outcomes in their heads. Even class discussions on Faulkner were punctuated by whispers of “where did you apply?” occasionally, I’d overhear someone hiss, “can you believe he applied to there?” with the same tone seventh grade girls use to judge someone’s unfortunate haircut.


College admissions bring out the worst in people, and for good reason. Princeton just released some scary numbers for the class of 2015: over 27,000 applications for 1,300 spots.  Yale also received well over 27,000 applications, and only plans to accept around two thousand. Unsurprisingly, The count for Harvard hopefuls is pushing 35,000.


But you already know that the odds are formidable.  Rehashing the specifics, even in an effort to manage your expectations, seems counterproductive at best. And so, I will focus on another aspect of this “plateau” you are currently plodding across. I remember it well. Even more poignant, though, are my memories of my senior year of high school: taking a painting class with my best friend, participating in an informal 4-square league, discussing James Joyce with my favorite teacher, Reading I Claudius for a Latin elective.


College has been looming on the horizon, casting its menacing shadow, for so long that the very idea of it has begun to swallow your senior spring in its wake. As I mentioned before, aside from interviews, the application process is out of your hands, and thus, should be out of your mind as well. This is a very special pocket of time, before you have to make tough decisions, weigh financial aid packages or say goodbyes. So, try, as difficult as this might seem, not to think about college; just enjoy high school instead.