First, I’d like to state that there’s nothing I can say about this topic that hasn’t already been stated. All I want to accomplish in this piece is get down my feelings about the weird system that is college admissions. I’m of two minds when I think about my future self reading this post. Part of me wants my future self to feel proud of my 17-year-old self for having a good perspective. Another part of me fears that if I approve of what my 17-year-old self thought, then I really haven’t changed all that much. Having gotten all that out of the way, I’ll put down my thoughts.
1) Going to a prestigious school shouldn’t matter that much, but it still matters. It really boils down to a normative vs. a descriptive statement. I would like to live in a world where people don’t judge you on the quality of the educational institution one attends. However, we do, and even people who would like to change the status quo (including me) find themselves judging other people. I think the thing to do is be constantly aware of our biases and acknowledge their power. These biases are inherently human. It’s why we same that some one is a “New Yorker” or a “Surfer Dude” or a “Theatre Kid.” These broad classifications make it easier for us to interact with the world. But we have to strike a balance between using them for our convenience and using them exclusively to categorize individuals. If this sounds familiar, it’s because I’m stealing a lot of it from smarter people who wrote about racism and sexism. The quasi-class-ism of elite colleges shouldn’t be any different.
2) I might be going to one of those prestigious schools. Let’s conduct an experiment. Read the next sentence. My application for admission was accepted by Harvard. STOP! Recall your gut reaction. Go back and read 1). See? Our impressions of other people are irrationally formed just by association with a particular college. I’ve heard that eventually, the label of your college can come off if you choose to take it off, but for now, everyone in my grade is linked to a school. I don’t want that to happen. So, please read some of the other stuff I’ve written so I don’t become that “high school blogger who got accepted by Harvard.” Hopefully I’ve given you a little practice in being aware of those instinctual judgments we make. Now let’s go back to our schools and fix that oppressive environment.
3) Last thing: being a Christian has really influenced how I’ve approached this process. The problems with the biases and perceptions I’ve established above are that they are easily extended to almost every area of life. Your job, your hobbies, your philosophy, and yes, your religion. Throughout this crazy process, I’ve been holding on to the idea that my worth is created by God. Moving the source of self-worth outside of the “real world” has helped to keep me grounded, because regardless of my personal “successes” and “failures,” we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28. Don’t want to plagiarize the Bible)
Well, that’s all I have. To all you students, have a good Spring Break, and don’t forget to brush your teeth.