The Impossible Standard of College Admissions
Senior year of high school is supposed to be the easiest and and least stressful year of high school, however, what one doesn’t realize is that for the entire first semester a student applying to college spends most of their time editing essays, filling out applications, and listing every significant activity they have done in the past four years.
This past year, acceptance rates into colleges were at the lowest it’s ever been. Some of the most prestigious colleges such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and MIT had acceptance rates all under 5 percent. Every year, this acceptance rate continues to get lower and lower, even for schools that aren’t as competitive, leaving high school students with an impossible standard to achieve. Some students will get into the school of their dreams and some won’t. Even after being a top student and accomplishing so much, students are still being rejected, which leaves the question of “what more could I have done.”
The answer is nothing. The college admissions system is subjective and creates an unhealthy and impossible standard. In order to get into a top school, students are required to maintain a high GPA, have multiple extracurriculars, have an outstanding essay, and undergo an interview process. Students will spend countless hours, countless all-nighters, just to get a good grade, and this is not healthy. Assuming everyone who applies is completely qualified, only a small handful will get in. This leads to a struggle for the admissions council to decide who gets in because there are many qualified students who have their own unique qualities and accomplishments. It is an extremely difficult job, and in the end, it may come down to luck.
Many people will say that the admissions system is unfair due to economic reasons. Students who attend school in a poorer area may have less of an advantage in comparison to students who went to a school in a rich area. This creates an unequal opportunity because stents in wealthier areas have resources for tutoring, test preparation, athletic training, and more. In contrast, students in poorer areas don't have these resources. This creates the assumption that you have to be wealthy in order to make it into a school. A student living in poverty may also not be able to afford tuition for a top school and struggle with gaining financial aid. As a result of this, they may choose not to attend the school they got into solely based on financial reasons.
Most top schools are also corrupted with college admissions scandals, in which students will cheat on standardized tests, fake playing a sport, or donate a large amount to the university just to get in. Not only is this an unequal opportunity for students who can not afford to do this, but it takes the classroom spot of someone who actually accomplished many things and gives it to someone who cheated their way through.
College scandals such as these also lead to an impossible standard for students who are working for their standardized tests scores and training for athletics. To learn more about this topic, there is an interesting documentary on Netflix titled Operation Varsity Blues. This documentary goes into detail about scandals that involve wealthy families paying to have their children get into top schools and the documentary explains the system problems of the U.S higher education system.
This is why you should not worry about where you end up. As a current college student who got rejected from her dream school, it won’t be the end of the world. I currently love where I go to school, and I firmly believe I ended up where I was supposed to. Though I did not get into my dream school, at least I am continuing my education in a place that I am happy in. That alone is an accomplishment.