‘Tis the season of college acceptances. Proud families, excitement, and broken hearts, all describe the state of seniors around America at this time of year. College admissions are becoming a tool to judge other people on their intelligence and to figure out who they are. An acceptance to an Ivy League is, of course, an applaudable achievement, but attendance to such a prestigious school is not the only way to achieve success.
It is important to remember the purpose of college: getting a higher education. Different people pursue further education for different reasons, such as studying in preparation for a certain career, getting an overall good education, increasing the likelihood of getting a stable career, fulfilling personal goals, or even fulfilling parents’ aspirations. It is possible to receive a higher education, and eventually get employed at a satisfying job, by attending any college. Whether it be Harvard, Santa Barbara City College, UC Davis, or Cal State Long Beach, all colleges offer education that can lead to a successful life.
The competition to get into the top colleges in the United States is becoming over the top. It is becoming common for students to do good things with the intent of putting it on their college application. The question must be asked, how will these students be motivated to positively contribute to their communities after they are accepted into college? Authenticity is fundamental in the pursuit of happiness.
“The authentic engagement in learning with the pursuit of knowledge to do well, makes one so happy,” said history teacher Mr. Burrows. “Simply by learning, simply by working hard.”
Mr. Burrows is keen on students’ participation in a variety of activities because of the fulfillment they bring to their lives and characters, but he believes students cheat themselves when they do something they do not believe in. Students, every year, start clubs or organizations, volunteer for meaningful causes, run for student council, with only the intention to put it on their college application. These are all acknowledgable achievements to have, but they will not be as significant if they are not accomplished with passion.
A college application can not completely measure a student’s intelligence or character. The admissions process is a game, and someone has to learn the rules and strategies in order to play it well. It is very difficult for colleges to gauge a student’s work ethic, learning ability, and personality through a series of lists, numbers, and a few essays. Some students know how to manipulate their GPA and class rank by taking the right set of classes at the right times. The SAT and ACT scores can definitely be significantly raised by taking extensive classes on the tests. How much does privilege play a role in these factors of the admissions process? Some families have more resources to offer their children, some students have more access to a college counselor, and some schools have more opportunities for their students. However, colleges are becoming more aware of these disadvantages.
Just remember, every college has something great to offer; the college experience, academically and socially, is what a student makes of it.