Infected by College Madness

Article by Jin Sun Park

Does your pulse quicken upon opening your Powerschool? Do your eye bags make you resemble a raccoon? Are SAT scores the bane of your existence? Does the mere thought of college and the future frighten you? If so, you may be infected by college madness.

But worry not because we all are—albeit to varying extents. And while to freshmen and sophomores, college is still a distant but daunting haze, to juniors and seniors it is an immediate and harsh reality.

At a school of ISM’s calibre, where competitiveness is rooted in the school’s ethos, it is easy to succumb to the unspoken expectation of excellence set yearly by our graduating seniors’ acceptances at top universities across the globe. Additionally we are burdened by the notion that our present actions will have a domino effect on college, our jobs and ultimately our overall success in life. But as much as we hate to admit it, this is a narrow-minded view that only serves to terrify us.

Last September 9, Dr. Michael Thompson, highly acclaimed clinical psychologist, author and international speaker, spoke to our upperclassmen and interested parents about the issue of “College Craziness”: the groundless anxiety associated with getting accepted at our colleges of choice, the effect of rejection on students and how its anticipation turns us into workhorses with a “do-or-die” mindset.

Too often, we let our transcripts define the worth of and influence decisions regarding our high school careers. However, as Thompson pointed out, we can’t let the average admissions officer–about 25 and with only 5 minutes to spare per application– define us. Five minutes in no way do justice to four years of hard work so it’s silly to lose sleep over them. So we must forget about transcripts and approach high school with the goal of enrichment because it is the opportunities we take to meet new people, gain wisdom in a new field and become active members of the community that we will look back fondly upon later in life.

But what happens when you give college more attention than it is worth? You harbor crazy ideas and adopt questionable practices like senior Bianca Cartera who admits to sometimes “[procrastinating] on purpose to get used to having to pull all-nighters in college.” She has gotten so used to this that she “can survive the week with only two hours of sleep!” The Common Application, an important component of US college admissions that requires writing about ourselves, also provokes delirious desires such as that of senior Nicole Yoon who wishes she “could make up a story for [her] Common App essay because [her] life doesn’t seem interesting enough for a good school.”

Mainstream consciousness today more than ever is imbued by the notion that college is the be-all end-all. However it is important that we realize, as junior Claire Deplanck has, that college “shouldn’t be our only dream, because once you get into the college or not, what’s next?” Claire goes on to say that “that there are more essential things in life than just going to college” one of which is “to be happy, which colleges cannot guarantee.” Life is too short to worry incessantly about college but if symptoms persist please consult your loved ones and ask yourself: what makes life truly precious?