For the past year, my conversations with school friends have consisted of the same phrases over and over and over again: “My mom went to Northwestern so I have to apply?” “Do you think my 32 ACT is good enough to get into USC?” “My parents will kill me if I don’t get into an Ivy.” My friends had so much stress on them to apply to prestigious schools- and a lot of them- that it made me stressed out.
When my friends would ask me for my opinion on the college application process, I would explain that I only applied to four colleges and that Northwestern (albeit on my list) was not my top choice. They would look at me like I grew an extra head. With the pressures put on high schoolers these days, it’s seemingly out of the ordinary for a kid to not have a prestigious university as their top choice or to not apply to an insane amount of colleges; these pressures are ridiculous.
According to the college website Collegevine, seniors in 2018 applied to anywhere from seven to 10 colleges on average. Now let’s assume a student applies to the low end of that range (seven schools) via CommonApp at $77 an application. That’s $462 spent on six schools that they won’t even go to. Yes, the student could’ve had an equal chance of getting into all seven, but wouldn’t it be more reasonable to narrow it down before paying that sum?
I applied to four different universities: Butler, Indiana, Northwestern, and Vanderbilt. For me, four was more than enough. If I had my way, I would’ve only applied to Butler and Indiana. But, I felt pressure from my family and friends to apply to prestigious schools because they were all applying to them, too. Indiana was my top choice, but whenever my friends would question why I wouldn’t want to go to a school as prestigious as the others on my list, I would second guess if my heart was in the right place.
No hate on Northwestern, it’s an incredible school. It just wasn’t the right fit for me. Not all people vibe with prestigious schools, and that’s okay! There’s incredible pressure from others to be the very best in academics these days so that students can get into good schools and excel in life. News flash: just because you didn’t get into Cornell does not make your chances at success greater or lesser. Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC and UCLA (he ended up going to Cal State Long Beach) but he is still one of the most famous directors of all time.
When it comes to applying to an insane amount of colleges, at the end of the day, it’s unnecessary. I know that some people like to apply to all of the Ivy Leagues, but in reality, all they have in common is that they’re Ivies. Students need to realize that applying to 13 schools with a 7 percent acceptance rate each isn’t beneficial to the college process. You need to diversify what types of colleges you apply to; they don’t all need to be super selective.
Just because I went a different route in the application process doesn’t mean I haven’t looked at the other side of things. I understand my friends who say they applied to 15 different schools on the chance that they don’t get into one. But, if you’re applying to 15 different schools with a low acceptance rate, it means that you haven’t narrowed down your school list enough. Narrowing down the list saves so much time, pressure and money.
I committed to Indiana for broadcast journalism. Even though the school isn’t an NYU or a UCLA, to me the name doesn’t matter. It’s the quality of education I will receive. At the end of the day, I truly believe that what I’ll learn there will be better than any other college I could apply to. But everyone’s college experience is different.
Whether it’s a community college or an Ivy, the name or reputation of the school holds no weight to what you make of it. Seniors need to look past the flashy pamphlets and school recruiters and do some research as to what is beneficial for them, not what everyone else thinks is beneficial.