-by Bibi Lichauco- Time has a funny way of catching up with you. Two years ago, I wrote an article addressing the sophomore’s point of view of the notorious college process, which, more or less, I have now completed (or at least I have endured enough to know at least a little about it). At this moment in late November, I am in the waiting period, this murky void of uncertainty and ephemeral relief. These weeks after I have relinquished my control over early applications and before I have some concrete results have presented a compelling opportunity to reflect upon the frenzy of investing so much into college and how Winsor has played a role in this process.
“We should not obsess over college,” I wrote in sophomore year. Honestly, I think that I do a fairly good job of doing the opposite now, as, ashamedly, I have woken up from nightmares of getting rejected from the University of Whoville. Perhaps that subconscious activity seems extreme, but it is a strong indication of what has been on my mind for the past several months. And, to be frank, that is okay.
One of the driving factors of indulging in a Winsor education is knowing that involvement in this engaged community and challenging learning environment facilitates the path to a great college or university. In other words, part of why we invest in those late nights of studying is to set ourselves up for success, in the eyes of not only college admissions officers but also people close to us and society on a whole. Sometimes, the idea of college seems ubiquitous. “College is a huge taboo at Winsor, and it’s on everyone’s minds no matter what grade they’re in,” commented Audrey Bloom ’17. “I’d be lying if I said college wasn’t at least a factor in my decisions to work hard at [the school work and out-of-school activities I do now].”
My main concern, therefore, looking back so far on this unfinished journey, is how the Winsor community, influenced by internal and external pressures, treats the notion of college. It seems that we students perpetuate a lot of the pressure we face. I know from my own experiences that it is not uncommon for lunch conversations to concern the application process and past matriculations, which involves determining how “good” alums’ schools are and manifests an implicit stigma around colleges that are perceived as less selective. Seniors in the homeroom noted that in the time leading up to this year, “there is a lot of judgment around students not going to Ivy League or NESCAC schools.
When you’re younger it’s easier to have an idealistic view of getting into college, but then you go through a period of realizing [how unpredictable and difficult it really is].” I hope that somehow and some time soon, girls will not have to feel like they will be or are already judged by the schools on their lists. Perhaps this would be a healthier approach, as expecting students to get only into selective schools not only reflects a naivete about the likelihood of that happening but an oversimplification of why people decide to apply where they apply.
There is one thought, succinctly articulated by Joanna Grill ’17, that I have tried to hold onto over these past few years. She said, “I try to spend my time doing what I love because at the end of the day, I want to go to a college that accepts me for who I am, not who I’m pretending to be. I really just want to be happy at whatever college I end up and being true to who I am in high school is how I plan to get there. Sometimes I think about college, but I try to remind myself to be content with the here and now.” Now that I am on the flip side, I could not agree more. College is nerve-wracking even to think about, and every year the application process becomes more complicated and convoluted. What I have taken away from the past few months is how important it is to identify what matters to you and to recognize what you do not know about others. When it comes time to get introspective and spill the beans in college essays, you will realize not only how much insight you possess based on life experiences but also that everyone is going through the same process, and that you cannot know what leads them to make their ultimate decision about which college they attend. The best thing we can do, as a whole community, is to be supportive of each other and humble ourselves with the fact that we not only have the opportunity to apply to college but also are graced with ample resources to do so.