Sommer Fowler
Special Columnist

Whoever said high school years were the best of his life obviously never went through college applications.  These applications are the height of the high school career.  Every exhausting all-nighter, uninteresting extra AP course, and hellish SAT prep class was endured with dreams of our happy selves prancing through college campuses drenched in newfound independence.  By the time senior year crashes down like a pile of textbooks, most students are ready to embrace the well-deserved senioritis.  Only one task stands in the way—college applications.

As most students did, I spent three years of my life interrogating admission directors and scouring online statistics for the perfect formula to boost my chances of being accepted to college.  All this effort was met by phrases like “just be yourself” and “show your own personality.”  To everyone who is starting to believe these vague truths, allow me to clarify.  You should be yourself, as long as “yourself” includes straight A’s.  Showing your personality is crucial, as long as it is just quirky enough to distinguish you from the pack but not so much that you sound like you eat near the trash cans alone every lunch.  Also, if that personality does not fit into essays of 350 words or less you should probably find a new one.

Although the minority, some students decide to apply outside California—because being an extra thousand miles away from parents is worth doubled tuition—and must complete separate applications.  There are only so many essays I can write on how magnificent I am before I run out of ways to say it.  With the regular workload of classes in mind, the several hours spent on a single application is a daunting task.  As fashionable as gray hair became in the last year, I do not appreciate the gray strands application stress has generously gifted me.

Once the worst is over, the forms are complete and ready to submit, there is one last slap in the face.  A hefty price tag awaits applicants serving as a gentle reminder of the textbooks they will have to pay for next year.  This year UC applicants shelled out 70 dollars for each school—a price that caused me to second guess my chances of being admitted.

While PHHS has excellent counselors on staff who are ready to guide you through the treacherous process, there is only so much they can do.  Teachers can help you find your own voice, as mine have, but what you do with it is your choice.  The college application process will be long and difficult.  It will force you to be genuine with yourself to a degree you may have never reached before.  It will be undeniably awful but once it is over you have something else to worry about—admission decisions.


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