Features / News

HawkWhy: The Inside Scoop on College Apps

By MONICA BIESPIEL

HOW DO I GO ABOUT APPLYING TO COLLEGE?

Ah, college. What a great source of confusion. Even underclassmen not currently involved in the application frenzy know what a burden this question can be.

In a nutshell, going to college means going to a strange new place with strange people, living on your own for the first time, and learning the imperative job and life skills that you will need to survive as an adult. You, as a fresh­-faced 17 ­year­ old, must decide which university you want to attend—and be excited about your decision.

The first step in your application process is to envision your ideal college experience. I’m sure you have been able to conjure up a dream school based on college brochures. Your picture of your dream school most likely includes kids wearing flashy school apparel with their backpacks casually swung over their shoulders, hanging out on the quad playing hacky sack, or having a great time studying. College is obviously all smiles and sunshine, right? Keep in mind that these college brochures are merely advertisements: not all colleges are filled with bright, attractive, starry­eyed students. However, your dream school is out there; all you have to do is go through a vigorous application process and find out if it wants you back.

While considering your dream school, don’t forget that half of its appeal comes from its name.You either want to pick a name brand college, or choose a school with a fancy-­sounding name that people will assume is a good university (simply to avoid the embarrassment of having never heard of the esteemed Northern Aubergine University of Southern New Hampshire). To get into these fancy-name colleges, you need to write a dynamic essay. You have to write something brilliant, philosophical, poignant, philosophical again, and cryptically symbolic. If your essay doesn’t win you a Pulitzer Prize, then you’re doing something wrong.

Beyond the essay, your application must prove that you are the ultimate Renaissance student. In addition to being a brilliant writer, you should be the captain of a sports team, a budding mathematician, or a mad scientist (either is acceptable, but being both is preferred), the president of an honor society, and a thespian able to play all the parts in a musical at once. This is called being “well-­rounded”; the sharp edges of focused talent frighten admissions officers.

So I wish you luck on your college applications and your upcoming college endeavors. If it turns out you don’t love that prestigious dream school you applied to, transferring is always an option—for failures. Why can’t you figure out exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life at 17 years old? Gosh.

— HawkWhy

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