A post to let off a bit of frustration here from a graduating senior. Writing is certainly a great medium to let off some stress (and we sure all have written a lot for college essays). I thought it might be a good idea to come here for some advice too. I’ll preface this with that I am receiving helpful resources for support with mental health.
I’m currently in the process of trying to finish with the GPA I’ve maintained through high school and it is an understatement to say it has been a struggle. Like many schools, my school took a really hard hit academically with the health crisis. I really put myself under a ton of pressure to perform well. I strived to keep my grades up, despite the fact I was struggling emotionally and critical classes were shortened to about half their size. I was really going through a lot and it felt like academic pressure was tearing me down even more.
Fast forward to this year, and although in person, the year hasn’t been much better. Our school has cancelled so many events. People are socially awkward and there is really no spirit at all. Although granted I’ve had some great, caring teachers, no one wants to be there. The normal struggles of high school seem magnified in a sense. It feels like there isn’t an enthusiasm to learn, but a need to get the highest grade possible to keep up.
Inflexibility in high school and the college admissions process is something I have really struggled with. It feels like I’m checking boxes, and to be brutally honest, that much of the college admissions process is a contest to which students can mentally exhaust themselves the most and still keep up. Doing just that is what got me a $140000 GPA based scholarship, an extra $20000. Yeah, I got an extra $20000 by doing well on the math final, but at what cost? Looking back, I’m really not sure if damaging mental health is really worth that, but that seems to be what the system values. I don’t like feeling valued behind what GPA I have, I want to feel valued behind the things I really have passions for.
Doing the same thing day in a day out, often with no idea what the purpose is whatsoever, surrounded by other unhappy people, has made me really upset with the current high school and college admissions experience.
Everyone tells me that in college you get to pick your classes and have freedom, but I’m really worried about what the future has in store. I know everything will always be okay, but I am very tired. I may sound selfish, but I really want it to be better and to have a balanced home where I belong. I know that life will always have struggles, and I love taking on challenges and crushing them. I even started my own business during the pandemic, and honestly, that has taught me more than I’ve learned all throughout high school. Challenges like these have been incredibly rewarding.
I want to go to a college where people challenge one another to use academia to advance society and themselves for the better, not check boxes to clear the threats of receiving low grades. A challenge versus threat mindset is truly spectacular idea to me, and it just frustrates me that it seems like our schools often ignore it with their design. I really hope Challenges in school have felt like checking boxes and not truly rewarding. For some people, they do really well in this kind of environment and I respect that, but for me, I find myself bouncing off the walls instead wishing for an innovative, real world applicable, academic experience. Seemingly people are rewarded for taking way too many advanced classes, taking on way too many clubs, and taking on way too many general responsibilities. A lack of sleep, time for reflection, and mental health burnout issues are seemingly rewarded by the college admissions process. And there is this idea out there, that in order to be successful, you need to be attending top schools to be surrounded by other stellar people.
I’ve narrowed my search down to two offers:
Ever since USC Iovine and Young Academy has caught me eye, I wanted to leverage an innovative, untypical to education. Many students like me really think they are on the brink of something special and find (or custom design) alternative programs with similar goals. Someone told me that if you want to build bridges be an engineer, but otherwise, learn as much about the world as possible. I want to do just that and leverage it to change the world.
Most importantly however, in college, I just want to have a better experience and find my home. I want to be able to challenge myself without having to exhaust myself to the point of not having any fun at all, feeling forcefully pulled in too many directions in an inflexible environment. Academically, emotionally, and mentally, I am exhausted, and I know I need to take care of myself and find a place that can help me do that in college.
Hoping for some advice and words of encouragement for anyone that has felt that same way. Thank you.