Are you my college apps? Cause I want you as far away as possible

By Aleezay S. and Laavan S.

While most of us have been consumed this summer with things like redownloading MOE and finding new ways to embarrass the TAs, there’s something scary and vicious looming in the near future: college applications. For the participants who are rising seniors, Saturday was an unwelcome slap back into reality as we were reminded of just how close we all are to application season. For some it’ll be months of grueling work of rewriting and editing essays about 50 different times in order to perfect their comma placement while for others it’ll be a “darn it I have 3 hours to write 10 supplements” kind of problem (and I, Aleezay S., have proudly accepted the fact that I will probably fall into the latter category). 

At this Saturday’s College Round Table, we were first greeted by a warm introduction from Mr. Bowdon who tried his best to alleviate our concerns about college applications, telling us that we’d get into so many great colleges that “we would need to pity all the colleges that we were going to reject.” He almost got me. I almost started to believe him until impostor syndrome came back crashing back in and told me “nope, he’s not talking to you.” But I’ll take any hope I can get for now.

When I saw the master list of SSP alumni and their college destinations, first of all, I was shook and went “wow I’m really gonna let the team down next year” but then thought “SSP really is an MIT breeding ground.” It was really cool though to see just how far and wide SSP’s reach was and that chances were that no matter what college we went to, we would probably be able to find a SSP alumni to complain about MOE with.

Soon after, admissions officers Peter Osgood of Harvey Mudd College and Chris Peterson of MIT came in and tried to pitch us their colleges in a Shark Tank-esque manner with very well-designed PowerPoints and masterclass persuasion techniques. One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Osgood was “the only Gamma Epsilon you will see is in your physics classes.” Greek life has never felt more rejected before. I, also, loved to hear that MIT didn’t rank their students because that is something from high school I am far more than ready to leave behind.

The rest of the Zoom call was us stressed and frightened seniors frantically trying to ask every single little question we could about their colleges and the admissions process. Hitting lighter subjects such as a love for chocolate science and science fiction to more solemn issues such as the Anti-Asian sentiment shrouding America, we all gained a more insightful perspective to not only how college worked but how the world ran and how vastly different it was from high school (which is exciting and scary at the same time). 

Well, west coast, best coast…most of the time. Waking up at 7:00 AM was definitely not the highlight of the day, but the inspirational talk by Mr. Bowdon, and informational talks from Mr. Osgood and Mr. Peterson definitely kept me awake. 

The overall experience was eye-opening and also helped me take away a bit of the mystery and confusion surrounding college admissions. My favorite part of the Q&A session was Mr. Peterson’s hot-take that students shouldn’t pick a college based on which colors make their eyes pop. Don’t stop me if I end up going to a college because they have the best hoodie design. 

Thankfully, imposter syndrome hasn’t flooded my mind yet like it has for Aleezay. I’ve come to the realization that regardless of where we go, work ethic will take us further. Whether it be community college or a top 10 university, the school we pick won’t solely determine where we work, how much we get paid, or our satisfaction later in life. After all, how often do you come across an unemployed researcher or doctor (assuming you stay the course of science)?

It’s crazy thinking about this whole process. A memorable quote I have from a good friend of mine goes like this: “Guess what Laavan, we still have 8 months left before starting college apps” (stated some time in January). It felt like he said this yesterday. Time flies when you’re having fun. By that mantra, I guess college apps will feel like an eternity. Joking:)

But in all honesty, it’s a terrifying decision to choose where/how to spend the next four years of your life at the age of 18. Some of us may be ecstatic and jumping with joy at the turn of events while others of us might be left devastated and crying in bed with a tub of ice cream for weeks. No matter what happens, by the end of college application season, we hope that we all find a place that we love to call home as we start the next chapter of our lives. Good luck to all SSP participants on your college journeys!