Wednesday, May 8, 2013

That College Application Process is Murder, But...

Phoebe Returns!

The author of two previous posts: 
Spirit of Unity from Ghana
They Have Left HomeThey are Going
Phoebe comes back to us with news about her future, thoughts about taking a "gap year", and a reflective glance at the strenuous process of applying to college.  

As anyone who has lived through the experience can attest, writing essays, taking standardized exams, and spending gobs of money all in hopes of acceptance can be overwhelming.
I received Phoebe's newest entry this morning - just as I my colleagues and I were preparing "How to Write Your College Essay" packets for our 11th grade students.  All of those wide-eyed Juniors on the cusp of anxiety and hope are about to begin the journey that Phoebe has just completed.

Congratulations, Miss Phoebe!  We look forward to having your passion and your intellect here in the United States!


You don’t expect to saddle your dear parents, who have tirelessly contributed their very best to your education through nursery, primary and secondary school, with the news that you’ve suddenly decided to take a year off from school. Not in a Ghanaian home. There is a certain order that only makes sense in their ears, and there is almost no room for “gaps” and “year offs” in their single-minded lingo. That said, it is almost always safe to assume where there is a gap, something unthinkable, even terrible must have gone wrong, somewhere somehow.

Last year I found myself in, let’s just say, a situation I didn’t think I had the heart or the time or the clarity of mind (mpo) to make a decision on. I would either settle on the only school that made me a partial offer or do nothing (at the time, “taking a gap year” wasn’t part of my lingo either) I could figure out just then. As time or maybe fate would have it, I took a year off and the only regrets I have? Having to go through that murderous college application process all over again (Well that’s not a regret per se. To my credit, I am quite an expert at the process now ;))

Yes, you heard it. 

That college application process is murder, but 
it simultaneously finds a way to get the best out of you. Don’t ever mistaken the undue stress, the drooping eyes, the constant all-nighters and the like on IB2’s faces. It’s a grueling time of hard thinking and deep questioning of what you really want, finding a great fit, making decisions that make most sense etc. - but it is not a ‘life and death’ situation. Just like any other process, things can turn out unexpectedly and differently as planned, even to the best of us. Part of the maturity is taking it up in your stride and moving onward. 

Part of it is accepting that what really counts is not the ‘glory’ in the name of the school you end up in, but what you are able to take and make out of it. Where you end up really doesn’t matter so much as how much you make out of it Now, I’m repeating myself. There are so many misconceptions that we must dispel and realities we must face and maybe you are only fully able to understand these things after having gone through the entire process, especially when you had it ‘the hard way’. But there’s room for hope, prayer and faith to believe that things WILL work out fine, even if it takes more time than we budgeted for.

I wish we would just allow things to run its course, and welcome every “gap” in the process in warm embrace. It is almost often ALWAYS (3 words?) worth the wait. It took me a whole year’s wait to land over 5 guaranteed offers and 2 ‘wait lists’ but I got into the school of my first choice (Tufts), and I can hardly explain how overwhelmed I feel.

IB2: This is the title given to 12th Grade students at Hermann Gmeiner International College.  "IB" = International Baccalaureate "2" = Second Year

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