I shall start by making it clear that I am not an expert in US college application at all, and I am in fact just a normal high school kid who feels the whole process as miserable as you do.
A few weeks before, I emailed one of my friends who share the same ‘American Dream’ with me. I told her that if she needed any help in writing a peer review or a second opinion on her personal statement, please feel free to tell me. Her reply really shocked me. She was always a tenacious student, but this time she said that she had given up on the application to the US colleges, and she would rather focus on local universities in Singapore. She thanked my kind offer with some wishes. She wished me good luck while admitting that she was not good enough for a US college.
As an Asian, I know that many people in my region share a common ‘American Dream’, the dream that is consuming all of our energy and sometimes, over-estimated. Every year, the competition for top colleges and universities in the US is extremely high, and many International Olympiad Medalists have actually been rejected. Many young, idealistic souls, including me, took SATs over and over again, struggled with personal statements and cost all the savings of their families for an education in the US.
I spent a night re-thinking about the whole idea of ‘American Dream’. Why do I want to study in a country so far and unfamiliar to me. What is driving me to write essays after essays just for rejections that will painfully remind me of the fact that all my effort just does not make sense and my life sucks? I think the answer is really the education system and the application process. I like exploring new things, so I believe that a liberal arts education is really my favorite. The US colleges also adopt a holistic admission process, meaning that I will be assessed as a real person who has his unique background, emotions and thinking processes. For the first time in my life, I will not be defined by numbers on my results slips. I feel being respected. I finally have a chance to express what is really me to others whose job is just to listen to me.
So I turned back to those endless essays and application materials with a bit more determination, that’s all I need.
So I asked myself, what is really me, and what stunning personal stories I desperately want to tell?
So I replied to my friend – I feel the same thing as her. I have to ask for huge amount of financial assistance despite my disappointing SAT results. I also sometimes feel that there is little hope in front of me, and I really do not know which path that I am heading towards. But every time I feel depressed or uncertain, I told myself that there is always a bigger world outside, and I shall explore it when I am still young and adventurous. I want my voice to be heard and my personality recognized. I also wished her all the best because in front of choices, there is no such thing as right or wrong. Our unique choices will eventually shape our lives that will be so wonderfully different from one another.
Even though the results of my application may not be ideal, but I do know that after this college application season, I will grow up a bit more. I will know a bit more about myself. I have nothing to regret. Life will go on, and it may not suck as I think.
All the best to those miserable souls who are struggling with college applications. Your task is in fact abnormally simple – tell an amazing story about YOU.