Lorrie Lynn: Diary of a neurotic junior, continued

Lorrie Lynn

Like at least half of the rest of the junior class, I spent my Spring Break jumping from college to college and catching a more realistic glimpse at just how the admissions process in the fall will go.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I just have to say: holy smokes. Boston is amazing. I’d never been in the East Coast’s Bay Area before and I must say, I’ve been missing out. The town is gorgeous and historic, but not overwhelmingly urban or large. And contrary to what I’ve been told I would discover, pretty much everyone I met with was really friendly.

Now that you’ve got some context, I really have to admit that however breathtaking the area was, the thing that was most off-putting was being in the admissions offices themselves, but then that’s probably no surprise. Simmons (all women, tiny liberal arts college on the Fenway), Tufts (highly selective university in the suburbs), Boston University (large and selective university that runs along the Charles), and Wellesley (another all women’s liberal arts college about 30 minutes out of the city) are all extremely different environments and have programs about as similar as night and day, but what they all do have in common is the feeling you get upon entering the admissions office itself: overwhelmed, terrified, and nervous beyond belief. The disgustingly sweet university trustees and admissions officers that shake your hand with a grasp I’d imagine could match Dick Cheney’s hardly make you comfortable either. They act so nice, as if they love you as their own, but oh no. They have our futures in their hands and I can’t help but refuse to trust any of them.

Though sometimes, the students are even worse. On our second college visit of the trip, one of my best friends and I were waiting with about 100 other juniors at Tufts for our tour to begin, and the tension was so high I found myself feeling lightheaded. Any onlooker would be able to see that behind all of the polite smiles and small talk shared as we tried to figure out just what a Jumbo was, we were really only trying to judge each other’s GPA and SAT scores by what scarf or Sperrys (Sperrys are really popular over there) the other was wearing.

“This place is beyond a reach for me,” I was thinking. “Who else here wants to be an IR major? Who is going to get in instead and take that coveted spot in the Tufts class of 2018?” A suggestion was whispered to me that we all just wear signs that display all of these numbers for each other so we don’t have to play all of the mind games.

This suggestion has been haunting me since. It completely contradicts what I know many of us have been trying to tell ourselves, that we are more than just these numbers; we’re all aggregate of our separate passions, the people we’ve met and held community with, our experiences, and our dreams. This idea is nice and comforting, but it’s something our mommies and close friends would tell us, not an admissions officer. Of course they want a well-rounded and passionate individual, but it seems to me that well-rounded still means hours and hours of whatever finely measured interests and extracurriculars you have, on top of the highest GPA and standardized test scores. I don’t mean to be a downer, but those moments there just make it all seem impossible.

I should point out that as soon as I left the office at Tufts, the stress was immediately alleviated as I laughed with the rest of the students as we were informed more than we’d ever dreamed regarding Jumbo and his story. It was much easier to imagine myself at school there and for a second let the pressures float away and catch a glimpse of 45 minutes of college life.

I’m still a firm believer that we will end up where we’re meant to end up, as a good friend I met up with at BU reminded me the day after visiting Tufts. We surveyed the breathtaking view of the city from her dorm and I told her about all of the schools I’m head-over-Sperrys in love with but that in reality I have little chance of being accepted to. In all honesty, last week was just a big example of that fine line I’ve written about before, where we all need to step back and work on being content with ourselves as we yet continue striving harder and harder to better ourselves for those dreaded applications- but first, one would hope for ourselves. It’s tough, but like I’ve said, and like my good friend Christina reminded me, we’ll end up where we’re supposed to. And if we don’t, well I guess we’ll all have serious bone to pick with those great gods of the Collegeboard.

What do you think?