By: Ari Schwartz
Establishing You, the Applicant
You’re a hopeful, optimistic, happy 17 year-old kid. Or, as happy as someone can be when they’re the President of the Thespian Society, the Drama Club, and a founding member of the Musical Theater loving group, We Love Musical Theater (read: Let There Be No Mistake: We Are Extremely Metrosexual) as you’ve so subtely and cleverly entitled it. All of this while living in a homophobic agrarian Ohio town! But no matter. This is your senior year. Soon enough, you’ll be graduating from high school, matriculating to college, and be miles away from this 1 horse town, living in a big city being exposed to all sorts of different people and experiences, and, hopefully, a more diverse selection of English Idiom. You make a note to yourself: Never say “1 horse town” again. Or, who knows? Maybe you’ll be a bit adventurous and take advantage of the always-trendy gap year program. That’s sure to raise your interesting/mysterious/sex factor when you do arrive for your freshman year, non- challantly recounting on your life-changing experience staying with a family in Africa (just AFRICA. No specific country. Your average NYU co-ed will stop listening anyway once you show her that heartbreakingly vivid selfie you snapped on your brand new iPhone 5s with the blackest and most emaciated baby you could find, just to bump up the likes that it’ll accumulate on the Facebook and Instagram markets when you post it with the always classy caption “We are the world. We are the children. #awareness #togetherness #peace #WeAreAllHuman #NoFilter. Finally, a post you don’t have to delete after less than a day because it’s embarassing to keep up a picture that only garnered a meager 2 likes. Plus, no need to specify the country when all Africans are the same anyways, amiright??!!), or the six soul-stirring months you spent hiking the Italian hill-side, playing the occasional gig at an Italian cafe, with only a trusty Rosetta Stone program as your companion (again, just flash the co-eds that photoshopped picture of you striking a classic Morrison pose, in what you say is an Italian cafe, but which looks suspiciously similar to your decrepit suburban basement, and then they won’t ask you
to speak any Italian past “Bonjourno”). Either way, life is gonna be great for you next year. The only thing left to do is actually applying to college.
You fire up your MacBook Pro, and immediately go to US News and World Report’s website. Their annual College Rankings list will have just come out, and you want to see which colleges will have the Good-Will-Hunting-Game-Six-World-Series effect. “You were at that fucking game (school)?!”. Top results: Princeton, Harvard, Yale. To most, these names are daunting, prestige and pretention conveyed with the utterance of a single word. But you laugh in the face of this supposed “Holy Trinity” of Universities. You, afterall, have secured for yourself a 3.9 Unweighted GPA and an impressive 2310 on your SAT’s. Oh, and did you forget to mention those 7 scores of 5 on your AP exams, your near perfect SAT II’s, and the fact that you’ve been published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer? Silly you. You’ve got this locked up. You feel pretty good (read in Anchorman voice) about yourself when you receive that recruitment brochure from Stanford on September 1st of your senior year. It isn’t until much later that you realize that every fucking kid on the fucking planet gets one of those so-that-Stanford-can- astronomically-increase-the-number-of-applications-it-receives-thereby-lowering-their-acceptance-rate- which-automatically-makes-you-a-better-college-on-paper. But for now? Shit. Your confidence is so high you barely even notice the Jocks calling you a faggot when you gallantly stride into school with your J. Crew polo shirt tucked a little bit too impeccably into your skinny chinos. But you still do. Hear them, that is. Still, you think to yourself, this time you almost didn’t. Things are definitely looking up.
By now it’s late September and, with the help of your college guidance counselor ( who lives in Arizona, visits the school maybe once a month, looks literally as old as dirt and about as charming as Barbara Walters will after her 7th face lift, and somehow missed the whole Civil Rights movement of
the 60’s. Rumor has it that he may have been in the USSR, or, more likely, locked in his bathroom for that decade. Like he legitimately calls black people “negros”, and doesn’t even blink. The whole school faculty just feels really awkward about the situation. And this is the person who will be writing a letter of recommendation to your selected colleges. Fantastic. Still nothing, not even this driveling, socially unaware, quite possibly alzheimers-positive, excuse for a College guidance couonselor, can get in your way.), you’ve compiled a list of the colleges that you will be applying to: the whole Ivy League, Stanford, UChicago, and OSU as your safety school (applying to OSU was just a way to assuage your parents concerns that you won’t get significant Financial Aid to one of the aforementioned schools that you’re bound to get into). The decision was based on two things: your stats, and the completion of a resume that he had your whole class fill out at the beginning of the year. A sly smile will appear on your face, as you recall the long nights spent racking your brain for the most insignificant activity that you technically participated in, which you can then embellish into something noteworthy, to compliment the slew of academic awards you’ve won. The time you raked the leaves on the front lawn of a house your mom was flipping, became a year-long internship at S&K Realty. Stanford is gonna love your business know-how. The colleges also won’t know that the golf team you were supposedly captain of last year, wasn’t actually a thing, but was just a way for the editors of that year’s yearbook to fill up some extremely conspicuous empty space. Or that all of the “Golf team in action!” pictures on file are, in actuality, just a bunch of tennagers with golf clubs fucking around in the school gymnasium. Or that even in the yearbook itself everyone on the team is listed as a captain. But no matter. You get an extra opportunity to artificially beef up your resume, and Chicago thinks they’re getting a brilliant and cultured applicant, who oh-by-the-way is also a talented sportsman. Everyone wins.