Confessions of a Teenage Scholar, Athlete and Artist

Let’s be real. Many of us can admit that at some point in our high school careers, we have picked up a ballpoint pen and written our name, form and email address on a club roster, thinking to ourselves, “This will look great on my college application!”

I’ll admit that as a high school student, I’m guilty of trying to boost my qualifications. I’ve seen fellow students doing the same. But are we really to blame for attempting to look accomplished when colleges expect so much?

Keep up your GPA. Do well on your SAT. Do well on your ACT. Take as many AP classes as you can. Take some subject tests.

But wait! Don’t forget to be a well-rounded human being! Be athletic. Be artsy. Join a club. Start a club. Do community service. Be interested in politics. Get a job.

But wait! You get three months off from school? That gives you even more time to be a scholar, athlete, artist, and humanitarian! Take some summer classes. Do an internship. Travel the world. Change lives.

But wait. What about what I want to do?

By setting the standards so high to the point where students feel like they have to do and be everything, colleges have created a situation in which it’s difficult to fulfill all our goals and still enjoy what we are doing.

It makes sense that a school would seek out hardworking students who will contribute to their community. Colleges do not only look for students who can maintain their grades and high test scores, but rather they focus on students who can do so while partaking in extracurricular activities.

While this may not seem like a terrible burden, balancing school with activities becomes increasingly problematic as homework and fatigue pile up. It doesn’t help if we are participating in activities we may secretly dislike. But at least we have the summer to relax, right? Wrong.

College Board’s website specifies that schools look at a student’s summer pursuits while reviewing their applications.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that a summer job can be enjoyable, but the thought of College Board telling me I should have some kind of occupation during my vacation just makes me want sit down and watch Netflix until my eyes bleed.

Colleges need to consider this: when we feel like our acceptance depends upon our participation in multiple activities, those activities start feeling like heavy textbooks weighing us down, like countless assignments on our to-do lists. While signing up for an activity, we should be thinking, “This will be fun,” rather than, “This will look great on my college application!”

– Jemma Nazarian