College Apps are getting out of hand

October 12, 2014 — by Arman Vaziri

Lately, it seems that all colleges want are superheroes. And there’s no doubt about it, being a superhero would definitely make the college application process easier.

Too bad we weren’t all born on planet Krypton.

Lately, it seems that all colleges want are superheroes. And there’s no doubt about it, being a superhero would definitely make the college application process easier.

But we don’t all have stories about saving a small child from a burning building, about leading a team to success, winning an international physics competition, or about writing a best-selling novel by age 16.

Unfortunately, however, these are the types of stories that extremely selective universities are looking for, and it is hard for many students to compete with the “superhero” students who seem to have done everything possible in their short high school careers.

Seniors spend countless hours perfecting every word and sentence on their applications, meticulously perfecting their essays with a fine-toothed comb. There is no margin for error. There is no “re-do” after submitting. And ultimately, there are hundreds of students across the nation who are disappointed with the results. Months of hard work lead to nothing but rejection.

Many students think they must spend (or waste) all of their time trying to build an impressive resumé by joining  an excessive dozens of clubs or taking every AP class offered.

In fact, so much time is spent doing everything that everyone else does that students lose their individuality in the process. It is hard to stand out among the waves of students applying to top universities, but students should be able to be accepted without having straight A’s and participating in 10 extracurricular activities. It is better for students to excel at what they enjoy doing — at least they’ll have an engaging, fun high school experience.

The work required to stand out to admissions officers at top schools is not truly worth it, because one could easily receive a similar quality of education from a slightly lower ranked college that has equally strong programs. Most people don’t realize this reality and instead work harder to get into a well-known school that would not benefit them academically or socially.

College essays are a way for schools to understand a student’s life experiences and reactions to events. However, many students find their own background too indistinctive and instead fabricate a hero’s journey out of mundane events.

Most students aren’t superheroes. People will never be Superman and should not fake being Superman; simultaneously, colleges should not expect perfect beings to apply to their schools.

While those students who do have these “superhero” skills should be rewarded, students who do not have such life-altering experiences should not feel pressured to embellish essays for the sole purpose of looking good to an admissions officer. There are thousands of deserving students who would succeed in selective schools, and they should not have to make up heroic life stories to fit the rubric of an essay prompt.

Having to write 20 personal essays is bearable because the stories are true; however, having to write 20 essays about a fake persona really means that you shouldn’t even be applying to those schools.

Students need to be more informed about their college choices and should not spend their time applying to institutions if their applications are just a work of fiction. College admission offices should provide essay prompts that speak to the creative sides of its applicants and get a real and more thorough understanding of its future students. After all, while few of us will ever save the world, we can all succeed at the college level by being ourselves.

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