The idea of College is scary. My entire life, I have lived in a world of constants: my friends, my family, and my island were always there for me, and all of a sudden, I’m overwhelmed by the lasts. Last homecoming, last swim season, last late night in the Veritas room frantically laying out. I’m rapidly approaching a brand new chapter of my life where so many of the things that I have taken for granted will not follow me. It’s scary, but not horror movie scary. It’s scary like standing on the edge of a cliff, peering down into the ravine to gauge at how far you’ve climbed. It’s an exciting sort of scary, the kind accompanied by an elevated heart rate and a wide smile. I’m excited about college because I believe that it is during these scary years when the constants of your life are stripped away like guard rails and protective padding, that you discover who you are.
Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to get into college, not only because schools have higher standards, but also because the pool is far more saturated. With the creation of the common application, it is easier than ever to apply to as many colleges as you see fit. With many colleges requiring no supplemental writing, where our parents tended to apply to 2 or 3 schools, high schoolers now tend to apply to upwards of 10 schools. With this newfound saturation of applications, colleges have to be more selective than ever before, making high schoolers work harder than ever before to distinguish themselves as exceptional students.
Those who chose to focus solely on the strength of their academic portfolio are rewarded with accolades, plaques, and invaluable lessons on the value of a good work ethic, but I feel like they miss out on a more important aspect of life. These last 18 years I have spent on Nantucket are the days I will look back on as the “good old days”; the days all I had to worry about was keeping my grades high enough to please Betty, keeping my 2002 Infiniti on the thin line between a functional vehicle and a piece of junk, and having Owen proofread my misspelled headlines.
I think it’s unfortunate that college has become so competitive that some of my peers spend the 18 years during which they have the fewest responsibilities pulling their hair out over the difference between an A- and an A+ in one of their handful of AP classes. These foundational years are the only time in our lives when we don’t have to worry about bills, financial dependents, or rent, and during this time it’s more important to develop the aspects of your character that aren’t necessarily visible on your transcript. I have learned countless lessons during my time at NHS, but the times I have learned the most about myself were the times I took risks to follow the things in life that make me smile. Whether it was traveling across the globe with nobody but my best friend, trekking through the fog-shrouded mountains to learn about the history of the Incas, or making a bold claim in Mrs. Phaneuf’s class about Dostoevsky’s views on evil, I was happy, and I think that’s the goal. Today, a college degree gives you the ability to follow your passions, and find a job that you truly love, but I don’t think that getting into school A vs. school B is worth spending the most formative years of your life in a perpetual state of stress.
By Henry Dupont