The Adventure of the College Application Process

College Counselor, Joyce Vining Morgan, explains the fun that is involved in applying to colleges.
By Joyce Vining Morgan, College Counselor
Applying to college gets a lot of press, most of it negative. What gets overlooked in all the media hype is the adventure of it all. Juniors have begun to visit colleges, and to discover the unexpected. Women’s colleges are actually interesting places, with a lot of men around. Who knew! The college that looked so good in the view books is not so appealing in reality, but the college visited because it was on the way to somewhere else turns out to have some really exciting programs. There are two and a half thousand colleges and universities in the United States, no two precisely alike. And then there’s Canada, and Great Britain and … .
SATs and ACTs are about as much fun as they’ve always been, of course. But the college essay is taught in Junior English at the end of this semester, and also in ESL III. So Juniors meet this new genre and discover the pleasure of writing a personal essay. They will have summer to play with topics and the various ways of addressing them – and that experimental spirit will lead them to compelling writing. As they write they will find surprising things about themselves, and the telling will bring their application alive to college readers.
Right now, Juniors are collecting personal data into resumes, and learning how much they have experienced in their 16 years, how many skills and interests they have developed. In so doing, they will discover that “it’s only a hobby” involves skills that a college community will be excited to use – like the amateur seamstress for whom drama department costumers eagerly await, still unbeknownst to her.
It’s almost May, and Seniors are concluding their college admission process. The year has involved different adventures. Some athletes realize that they are not destined for Division I, but one or two are. The physics-loving French enthusiast, a reluctant language learner before WMS, wonders whether he should choose the college where he could study Arabic, or the one with the better science program. Another student, once much enamored of the idea of going to California, is thinking East. Yet another ponders a gap year. Two classmates have been invited to colleges which offer a master’s at no extra cost, provided the student keeps up a solid GPA. The future beckons, and our seniors are ready.
So Seniors will head off to large universities across the country, and small – even tiny – liberal arts colleges close to home, to art schools and technical schools, to colleges as rural as The White Mountain School and colleges in the heart of our largest cities, and some may take a non-academic year before heading back to the classroom. One will study art in British Columbia, and one will study writing in Vermont. They will all take with them a new sense of self and of the broad range of possibilities ahead. This is the real core of the college application process.

Leave a Reply