Junior voice: Do something for yourself, not college

Senior Voice

photo-2As another year of high school begins to unfold, I am already freaking out. This is not just another year, it is junior year. Freshman year was a warm-up. Sophomore year was sort of like the forgotten year. Grades were important, but the workload was not insanely difficult to handle. But junior year, junior year is when it counts the most. Colleges are watching more closely, there is no room for mistakes. It is now time to stress about the SAT/ACT and how to build up my appeal to colleges! Yay.

It seems like everyone has already begun taking SAT classes, or has already begun to meet with college counselors. I am still stuck on my stay-up-to-2:00-a.m.-watching-YouTube-videos sleep schedule. Also, my mom does not hesitate to remind me that my “free time” should be used to look into colleges and start thinking about where I want to go. Free time used to be about having fun, hanging out with friends, and basically doing nothing, but now I feel pressured to use my spare time efficiently and with purpose.

Just doing well in school does not cut it anymore. Nowadays, you have to have close to a 4.0 GPA, play a sport, be involved in school activities, like plays and musicals, do community service, and join a bunch of clubs. Basically, you have to be the perfect student. You have to show colleges how you are different from everyone else, by starting a new club, or by taking on multiple leadership roles. But even then, sometimes it is still not enough. I am terrified that this will be my case.

Recently, I asked one of my friends why she was taking a class she said she hated, and she replied saying colleges like it when you stick with a class for multiple years because it shows commitment. Similarly another one of my friends explained how she is taking Honors English, even though English is one of her least favorite subjects. She described how she felt like she had to take multiple honors or AP classes or colleges would think she wasn’t challenging herself enough.

It may just be me, but I feel like the expectations of “what colleges will think” is starting to control my life. Every feat I accomplish, every mistake I make, I think about how colleges will perceive it. Whenever I think about doing some activity, or joining some club, in the back of my mind, I ponder how it will improve my college application. If I see no benefit, I think to myself, why do it? I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with college. I am psyched at the idea of actually going to college, but the process in getting there is like hell.

I think we, juniors, need to take a step back from all of the stress of school and just make time to relax, to have fun. Stake out your target in assassin for a couple of hours. Take some priority off of school and homework. Most importantly, and this goes for everyone, do something for you, not just for colleges.