Student focus should be on pursuing interests, not impressing colleges
A recent survey administered by a district-hired consultant showed that nearly 70 percent of Gunn students feel anxiety about getting into the college they want to go to. However, this figure is unsurprising to those obsessed with college admissions. At fault for this is the tremendous amount of pressure from peers, college counselors, parents and family members that while well intentioned, is often suffocating to their students.
In the Gunn community, getting into a good college is often portrayed as the exclusive marker of a student’s success, and all other achievements pale in comparison to an acceptance letter from a top school.
This has lead to a memetic belief among many students that having little to no fun in high school is a sacrifice worth making if it means getting into a college that has been semi-arbitrarily assigned a high ranking. Students select courses based on their counselor’s advice for designing the ideal transcript, while pushing genuine passion aside.
College counselors advise students to fill their free time with SAT classes and tutoring sessions, not to mention a plethora of resume-padding activities for which they may have no actual interest. Every detail of their lives is engineered to entice admissions officers to let them in. Yet a student with a perfect Grade Point Average (GPA) and great SAT scores will fare no better in college admission decisions if he or she has no life outside of school.
A student with a good GPA and SAT scores and a truly diverse portfolio of extracurricular activities is a passionate individual, something every good college looks for. Not to mention the second student will be substantially happier, something that is extremely undervalued in communities where all people care about is grades.
It is ridiculous for students to worry that what they like to do will not look good on paper. If they like something, they should do it. The self-sacrificing attitude that it is okay to suffer through activities one hates if it means getting into a top college needs to go. High school should not be seen as a four year long period in which one’s life is surrendered in the name of a perfect college application.
Not only will students be unhappy, pursuing things they do not enjoy results in a never-ending spiral, in which they will be expected to continue with these activities in college and beyond. College counselors and parents should stop encouraging this behavior. After all, their goal is to help students succeed, something that will never be achieved if they are miserable. What college one gets into does not determine his or her future success and certainly not his or her future happiness.
While college is important, nothing is ever as important as being happy. Nobody regrets being happy, but they do often regret stressing about activities of unimportance There are billions of happy, successful people out in the world that did not attend an Ivy League school, and this is something many Gunn students need to realize.