My Lack of College Excitement

Kaylee Powell, Staff Writer

I know for many seniors this is the time of year where we all get excited about high school finally being over. We celebrate the 14 long years of school finally ending and moving on to the next chapter of our lives: college. For most seniors, applying for colleges and scholarships can be stressful but the payoff of getting into the college of your dreams is well worth it.

However, I didn’t feel this way.

Once I entered senior year, I was excited to finally be back in school. I got to see my old friends again and make plenty of new ones. But as the year went on so many things were different. I lost a few friends, classes were harder than I expected, I had a lot more on my plate, and my friends moved on to bigger and better things. I felt alone. Everything around me was moving so fast and before I knew it, it was time to apply for college.

All of a sudden my friends were asking me if I got my college recommendation letters yet and who I planned to ask. My teachers told us that we have to ask sooner rather than later to get recommendations because sometimes they have way too many to do. Unfortunately, I asked later than I should’ve because I was just so unenthused by the idea of college that I didn’t even want to do the simple parts. I was lucky enough to have two amazing teachers step up to write them for me and I will forever be thankful to them and everything they’ve done to help me succeed.

At some point in the year, Chamblee offered up a college fair for seniors to go on and I decided I might as well. I wasn’t excited about the tour but I was excited to get out of class. To my surprise, the tour wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed a lot of the presentations and so did my friend, who graciously came along with me. For those couple of hours, I was actually somewhat excited about college.

To me, it was helpful talking to people who went to the college and could actually answer my questions. I got so tired of sitting behind a computer screen and just googling questions about colleges I didn’t even care about. Of course, there were a few rude people there but, like I said, I enjoyed it. I ended up being so excited I applied to two of the colleges that were at the fair.

Once I finished applying to school I had to apply for scholarships and wait for FAFSA to be up. At this point, all those long hours of scholarship searches have blended together and you can’t convince me I haven’t already applied or looked at every scholarship.

I wasn’t really expecting to get into many of my colleges. After six years of being reminded I was a resident student that wasn’t taking gifted or magnet classes, I didn’t often think of myself as the smartest in the room. I kind of felt like I was just randomly placed into a class with all the smart kids. I felt like there was no way I could keep up with my peers. They all read faster than me, understood math, had straight A’s, took a bunch of AP’s and I didn’t. So you can imagine my shock when I got into all of the colleges I applied for.

I didn’t apply to the recommended amount, only a few, but most had under 39% acceptance rates. So after hearing that a lot of my peers didn’t get into similar schools with similar acceptance rates I didn’t have high hopes and I honestly didn’t care.

Sure college is the next step for many but for me, I wasn’t too sure. I think the pandemic really affected the way I saw school. Before 10th grade, I was so ready to go. I was excited for all my senior activities and finally walking the stage but now that it’s only two months away, I’m not as ready. I didn’t get all of my senior things or a regular high school year.

When I finally got my acceptance letters, my mom tried to get reaction videos. She was expecting me to jump for joy, scream, cry, anything. But I just sat there like a log, as if it were just your regular spam email. I no longer had my heart set on going to college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but at the time it wasn’t college.

We called all of my family members and it was just as awkward as when you’re forced to call all of your relatives “Happy New Year” on the phone. At this point, no matter the school, everyone was more excited about me going than I was. I tried to be happy about it but every time the word “college” or “scholarship” was muttered around me, I felt this overbearing amount of dread.

Even though I didn’t care about the colleges or even going, I still completed a bunch of scholarship applications. I haven’t heard back from most of them which can be pretty discouraging. I spent a lot of breaks and days off school applying to one or two scholarships a day just hoping that one will see how great I am and just offer me $500,000, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

After getting accepted my mom strongly encouraged me to look at a few of the colleges online, so of course, I looked them up on Tik Tok. I thought the schools looked cool but still wasn’t super excited. Then my mom planned a few college tours and it dawned on me, I have never been on a college tour.

Thanks to this lovely pandemic I missed the part of junior year where you tour colleges and see what campus life was like. I realized that a reason I dreaded the idea of going to college so much is because I feared it would be so much like high school, except I could be going into debt for it. And in some ways it is, but in many others, it’s not.

College is my chance to be hundreds of miles from my family and the people I know, and while that can be insanely scary, it can also be insanely cool. I get to live in my own area where my mom can’t walk in and tell me my floor is dirty (my floor is actually very clean!). I get to eat what I want, within the meal plan of course. I get to go on crazy adventures with my friends, within reason of course. I get to be free!

Everything this pandemic has taken away from me I can get back through college. Even though I still don’t know exactly what I want, I’ve learned a new mindset. I still have my worries about what it’s going to be like but I think I’ll be fine. Plus, if college doesn’t work out, I can always move back in with my mom (she didn’t say that, but I’m sure she’ll be ok with it).