As the majority of the 2019 senior class takes its first steps toward higher education, a question most likely bounces around inside their heads: “Why do I deserve to go to this school?” This question introduces some aspects of the college application process which I am having some trouble agreeing with. As time goes on, the amount of young people attending college has increased drastically, moving from a virtue to almost a necessity. With more and more applications, the competition has never been harder. Furthermore, given this increase in applications, the college industry has become one that is ripe for monetization. This is exemplified in the trend of ever-increasing college tuition prices. According the the New York Times, “…the price of college has increased by 1,120 percent since 1978, more than any other good or service in the entire U.S. economy.”
This observation is not exactly an original one, and the capitalization of the industry is not necessarily the thing I have a problem with. My problem lies in the mentality of the kids applying to college. Often expressed by colleges in general is the idea of acceptance and individuality during your education. This idea, however, is almost directly in opposition with the mindset that many kids approach the college application process with. As the difficulty to distinguish oneself from the rest of the pack becomes harder and harder, a student’s psyche is the thing that takes the toll. I can not speak for my peers as a whole, but in my experience, I have found myself becoming quite critical of not only myself, but of my fellow classmates as well. After sitting down one day to list out the qualities that I may bring to the table in a college atmosphere, I found myself questioning the validity of those I was entering this new chapter of my life with. These people, with whom I have spent a good majority of my time on this earth with, began to appear unworthy of a college education, myself included.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for a little self critique and reflection, given that often times one can only better themselves through such analysis.I am not opposed to the ‘fight to win’ nature of the adult world. However, I have found that in the context of the college application process, this self examination is often destructive to the very values that these institutions preach. I don’t want to apply to college with an attitude of vanity and elitism. I want to apply to college with the faith that I am going to become a better person. If the act of merely applying to these establishments instills in me a sense of the exact opposite, then why bother in the first place? The nuances of the qualities we as individuals hold should be appreciated and cultivated. Instead, it appears to me that they divide us into autonomous classifications of self-worth, and i’m not happy about it. Some may say that my mentality and/or judgement speaks more on my character than the set up of college society. My response, in the words of Michael Scott, is this: “If it’s me, then society made me that way.”
By Owen Hudson