Not long ago, getting into college involved nothing more than a fair-to-middling G.P.A., an essay about reading to the blind, and your parents' checkbook. Things are a bit more complicated now. College budgets are being slashed. Competition is intense. So intense that kids are starting the "college hunt" in ninth grade. Are you really prepared? You're about to be.
High School Classes
It's not good enough any more to get a 3.5 G.P.A. at your bumfuck little school out there in the middle of nowhere and expect to compete. If the class doesn't have "AP" or "I.B." or "My Lil' Ph.D" after its name, you might as well just be taking shop class. Do they still have shop class? Well, Home Economics then. (Do they still have Home Economics?)
The point is, no Ivy League school is going to give you credit for regular classes at your high school, because they know damn well that the teachers at your high school are, by and large, the less successful members of your own high school's graduating class, ten to twenty years ago. You're just recycling trash into more trash, academically speaking.
Oh, you were the president of the Spanish Club? That should really help you have a nice conversation with the Mexican guy who will be sitting next to you at community college. Now do I have your attention, "mi amor?" Good. Extracurricular activities. Everyone has a 4.5 G.P.A. and a National Merit Scholar medal on a fat gold chain. What really sets you apart are your extracurriculars. The key part of that is "sets you apart." That means your activities have to be unique. Good extracurriculars may include, but are not limited to:
Dolphin speech translating; Assisting blind children to swim with dolphins; Freeing captive dolphins into the wild in the dead of night; Teaching English as a second language to dolphins; Feeding homeless dolphins; Taking a dolphin to the prom; Becoming a teen mom and your baby daddy is a dolphin, but you still keep your grades up; Lacrosse.
Choosing a School
It's time to pick a school! When should you start the process of selecting a school that you want to attend? You should have already started. A while ago. Try to keep up.
The simplest way to select where to apply is through process of elimination. You don't want to go to school with the bottom 50 percent of your class. That rules out community colleges. You don't want to go to school with the jocks and the cheerleaders and the popular kids, thought they were so cool, never invited you anywhere, FUCK THEM. Excuse me. That rules out state schools. You don't want to spend a shitload of money on a private school only to get a diploma that won't cause jealousy when you hang it on your wall. That rules out everything except Ivy League schools. Therefore you want to apply to Ivy League schools.
You can't get into Ivy League schools. Therefore you don't need to go to college. Just playing son, we're gonna help you!
Writing Your Essay
So your G.P.A. is good and your extracurricular activities are unique as a motherfucker. Join the club. That's just the prerequisite for even dreaming of applying to a good school. Now, you have to make yourself "pop" in the mind of the admissions people. This is done by having your father donate a building to the school, or by writing a really good essay.
What makes an essay that "pops?" Well, it has to be different from everyone else's. That means you cannot write about the trip you took to El Salvador the summer after your junior year, and how it really made you think. Nor can you write about the family tragedy that really made you think. Nor can you write about your nascent sense of involvement in the political process, and how it really makes you think.
Nobody wants to hear what you think.
So what do they want to hear about? They want to hear about your work with dolphins, and how your half dolphin baby that you had with a swarthy dolphin that you freed in a nighttime animal rights raid has not stopped you from both completing school and continuing your work with dolphins. This is what you must write your essay about.
Failing that: sports.
Dealing With Rejection
So, you didn't get into your school of choice. Sad. Your first mistake was taking college application advice from random internet sites, like CollegeConfidential.com. Look, it's a numbers game. Harvard accepts only 6 percent of applicants. Everyone can't get in. It doesn't mean you're not smart. It just means that, like most people your age, you make poor decisions, or were not born rich.
The truth is, most of you can't get into good colleges now. Just look at the statistics. They wouldn't be good colleges if they didn't reject most applicants. Thought you would be the exception? Statistically, you are not the exception. Like all of us, you are probably just average.
You shouldn't need much more education than that.
[Photo via Tom Wang/Shutterstock].