How to Deal with the College Conundrum

By Sophia Aigner

I’d like to begin by expressing my deepest condolences to anyone reading, because let’s face it, the college process is exactly what people say it is: stressful, stressful, stressful—and oh yeah, stressful. There will be nights where you’ll be up typing away at your college essay, flipping through every page of the SAT prep book, and wondering how you can lengthen the size of your resume. I know, it all sounds dreadful. But here’s the good news: I’ve been there—every upperclassman has been there, and we’ve all survived—through the tests, applications, acceptances, wait-lists and even the rejections. How do we do it you ask? Well, if you think about it, it’s pretty simple. Ready? Okay, here it goes: college isn’t as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be. 

Okay, I know what you’re thinking—how could she say that? Is she out of her mind? College is certainly important! And to be honest, all are sensible objections. But to be fair, I’m not trying to argue that college is unimportant; I’m only advising you to tone down the pressure, because really, it’s not worth the tears. 

We all hear those anxiety inducing nostrums: that one screw-up in high school will follow you for the rest of your life. That if you don’t go to an Ivy League you won’t make it far. That if you don’t get a 1590 on your SAT you’re stupid. But gosh, who came up with these guidelines anyway?? And why the heck do we find credence in these delusions?

I implore you to examine the facts. Only a third of adults hold degrees from four-year colleges. Elite private colleges teach you the same information as regular state schools. Some of the richest Americans didn’t even go to college. The list continues on…

The point I’m trying to make is this: yes, the college process is stressful—but it’s not the end all be all. Nothing is, really. If you want to be successful, take it from me, and the millions of other Americans: we become successful by working hard, and by having the courage to pull ourselves back up when we stumble. The name of your college is not your identity. The score on your SAT is not your destiny. The grades you earn are no indicator of you will lie in the future. What is a determinant, however, is your will to persevere. You don’t have to go to Harvard to learn that.