College? College! by Mattie Conley

Unpopular opinion: I love thinking about college.
            I know, I know, shocking, right? A senior who hears the word “college” and doesn’t immediately cringe or curl into a stress-induced ball? Unheard-of.
            Yet, when asked about my plans for next year, I am more than happy to dive into a discussion of colleges and where I am with my applications. Want to know what I thought of the tours I went on?  In short, they were amazing. Curious about how the SAT and ACT went? They were very long but went well overall. Wondering how are my essays coming along? Currently they are very much in the drafting phase, but they’re getting there.      
Ever since I was in elementary school, I’ve looked forward to going to college. As someone who truly enjoyed learning, college seemed like the ultimate achievement. Back then, college was the idea of being immersed in a higher level of education and all the bells and whistles that came along with it. I was so excited to be given more freedom in choosing my courses and to be able to pursue topics that truly fascinated me in depth.
In the past couple years, however, the reasons for my excitement have shifted ever so slightly. Before, I was pretty much exclusively excited about the idea of college itself, but now it seems that that dream has been somewhat corrupted by the desire to get out of high school. I often feel like I’m somewhat more anxious to get away from the system of high school than to actually get to college. As high school students, we have the same seven classes every day, each one giving out huge amounts of homework that can become overwhelming pretty quickly. Every week it seems like a lot of students are just trying to make it to the weekend; from Monday to Friday there is no time to catch a breath. A lot of my old excitement for getting to go to college remains, but it is unfortunate that it has been tempered by a more negative reason.
 I love thinking about college, where “college” refers to all  being there next year. I had so much fun going on tours and getting to see a little bit of campus life in person. I came home from college trips bursting with anticipation and with an eagerness to apply. However, now that I’ve been working on applications for a while, I have found that I am not all that fond of the application process itself. Filling out the extensive sets of required information on the Common App is very tedious, and the number of essays I need to write has added up quickly with each college I’m applying to. This raises the question so many seniors are currently asking: when am I supposed to find the time to get everything done? Balancing applications and normal homework is not easy, and it can sometimes be hard to know whether homework or applications should take precedence. It has taken a good amount of planning and self-motivation, but I have worked out a schedule for trying to balance everything. I’ve found focusing on normal homework during the week and setting aside time during the weekends for applications works fairly well (or at least it has been working so far). Perhaps one of the reasons I don’t mind discussing the college application process is that it keeps me focused and organized. By talking with other people, I can sort out my own thoughts and even get a little advice in the process. As the November and January deadlines creep steadily closer, my stress levels and levels of excitement are both on the rise. There’s a lot of work yet to be done, but with the end so close in sight, I can’t help but feel a sense of elation. My elementary school self is so close to seeing her dreams of college come true, and my current self is right there with her.

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