Breathe. It's Only College
Slow down. Take a deep breath, and exhale.
Many of you have e-mailed me desperate for direction about juggling extracurriculars with APs, crying in fear that you're not involved enough, or worried sick your resume won't be up to par for your dream school.
Breathe in . . . and out. It's only college.
I am going to let you in on a few itty bitty secrets about college:
1. College is not a life or death situation.
2. College is only four years of your (hopefully) 70-something years of life.
3. Most of your college experience will depend on you and not the institution at which you're studying.
Once you realize that you have complete control of your own college experience, fretting about a denial letter seems silly. Some of the most successful authors, lawyers, CEOs, government officials, and artists did not go to an Ivy league school. Oprah Winfrey went to Tenessee State University, J.K. Rowling went to Exeter University in the U.K., and Stephen Colbert went to Northwestern University. I am not down-playing the worth of an elite Ivy League education at one of those eight chartered institutions. However, I am letting you know that success is not an unattainable feat if you end up at Hometown State U.
Once you can swallow that factoid, this process becomes much less stressful.
The point is, you need to stay true to yourself. If you know that taking three, rather than two, APs will eliminate every single weekend event for you, then only take two and do a darn good job in them. If you have grown to truly hate Band (and that "stupid" flute) and you are only doing it so you can say you participated for four years, rather than three, by all means, please do not put yourself through the torture. Bag it and fill the practice time with volunteer hours at a soup kitchen, learning how to sew, or something else you've always wanted to do. Lastly, if you're swamped with homework and have no time for the SAT study session, please realize that a 20-point increase on the Verbal section will not outweigh a big red "F" on your Lit paper.
I am not suggesting you slack off and party like a wild child for the next nine months til graduation, but I am suggesting you enjoy that time. Success will come to those who pursue it, not from their alma mater.
There is a balance (think Buddha-style) that must be achieved. A balance between stopping to smell the roses, studying for the SATs, succeeding in your classes, and not pushing yourself tragically over the edge so that you can't hold it all together.
So, one more time, breathe in . . . and out. See, isn't that a little bit easier now?