College expectations preclude pursuit of personal interests

Photo by Sasha Vassilyeva

Photo by Sasha Vassilyeva

Gigi Cepeda, asst. opinions editor

Well, what’s your GPA? What extracurriculars are you in? Oh, that will look good on college applications. It’s something I hear everywhere- in classes, hallways and conversations with my friends and family.

They’re comments that stress the importance of “perfection” in a time when competition for acceptance seems to be on the rise. Now that going to college has been accepted by our community (and many others) as a norm, aspiring students have to accomplish much more to study at their school of choice. And these standards have a way of invading our thoughts and sticking with us throughout high school.

What will make us look like cool people, people that have interests and passions and care about things? Let’s ignore what we actually care about; there must be some non-profit out there to create, some topics to write just-for-fun essays about, some easy sport to master to look well-rounded.

Now, of course, I’m being dramatic, but these are ideas I actually come across on a daily basis. People are centering their teenagerdom not around what brings them genuine joy, but around what they think will make their life look interesting. By doing this, we’re missing out on four valuable years of exploration, growth and fun – what teenage years should be all about.

Of course, if you’re actually interested in founding a non-profit, writing just-for-fun essays and playing a sport or two, go for it! I’m a firm believer in trying anything and everything just to see what will come of it. Who knows, you might like it!

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t be working to make a good impression on college admissions officers. We should be working as hard as we can, doing as much as we can and putting our best foot forward. But don’t let that get in the way of pursuing your passions.

I have met many kids who have 5.0 GPAs but never sleep. I have met kids who do nothing but volunteer for organizations they aren’t passionate about. I have met kids who look absolutely perfect on paper, but are drowning from the stress of trying to do it all.

If you follow your passions and dedicate these years to what makes you happy, that enthusiasm will shine through college applications. And if for some reason it doesn’t and you don’t get into the school of your dreams, at least you know you spent four years doing what you love. That’s a lot better than ignoring what you love to look “perfect” and realizing that you wasted these precious years to gain acceptance to a college that doesn’t want you for who you really are.