Breaking News: Colleges Do Not Care About You


Jillian Leavey, Head Editor

OP. ED. — “I was in robotics, CORE, SPEC, Tolerance, Spanish, Student Civic, Honor Society, Marine Bio, Athletes Helping Athletes, Mathletes, Student Council, Mock Trial, Junior Class, SADD and drama clubs; I participated in volleyball, basketball, lacrosse and marine fitness; every class I take is AP. All of this while maintaining a 103 GPA.”

This could have been Jillian Leavey, but fortunately it is not. I am proud to say I did not succumb to the spell cast by our nation’s most manipulative institutions: higher education.

Regretfully though, I tailored an entire two-and-a-half years of my life solely to the likings of a shadowy admissions board I had never met. I constantly found myself justifying my misery and stress with the assurance that if I exhaust myself today, I will get into a top-notch university tomorrow. Even before high school, my parents, teachers, and especially guidance counselors warned me that I need to do certain things and act in certain ways in order to one day garner that coveted acceptance letter.

To worsen the situation, schools began pushing all students to apply to a college, only increasing the already-cutthroat competition. Now more than ever, high schools across the United States are forcing college applications down the throats of seniors. Gone are the days of attending trade schools or working a quality profession requiring no education beyond a high school diploma. This is a disturbing and detrimental notion pushed forward by our society, aided by public school systems–at least on Long Island–that leads to gargantuan student debt (Ed. note: this will be a rant for another day.)

The elusive admissions board I sought so desperately to please does not know me and likely will never meet me.The vast majority of admissions board members are underpaid alumni cooped up in drab office slogging through thousands of resumes. Sometimes just one person has an applicant’s fate in his or her hands. Who is to say that he or she has a personal bias or is flat-out having a crummy day?

Also, between affirmative action and an emphasis on diversity, schools seem to merely view all of us “special snowflakes” as “special statistics” boosting their reputations. Sometimes, they even have the audacity to feed us the good ol’ hook, line, and sinker that ‘you are not just a faceless stat to us, but an individual with a story.’ That is precisely why they care so much about my parents’ income, race, religion, and first language spoken.

By the end of this year, my mindset shifted dramatically. Whether it be taking a philosophy class, enduring a grieving community in wake of a classmate’s death, or finally reaching my stress limit, I had an existential crisis and came to a profound realization: life is meant to be lived. We only have one shot at this, so why waste it tirelessly trying to impress something so impersonal as a college?

By no means am I excusing laziness. High school is not the place nor time to slack off and become a plastic bag carelessly drifting the winds of life. Some less-enthusiastic students may use this article to justify their empty extracurricular activity list, lack of community service and failing GPA. My case is for students like me who felt unnecessarily pushed to their limits surrounded by Himalayas of stress and anxiety. The same goes for the student who can function in such conditions. These students are rare, though, and we all know who they are.

The time wasted now (vainly) attempting to awe a college, which only sees our value in dollars, is time which we will never get back. No matter what walk of life you come from, there is no changing the past. Our generation has ingrained in us this false ideal that college is the only key to success, and that success can only be measured by financial prosperity, and such success is the only source to happiness. We cannot help but strive for college acceptance because we are being taught it is the only way to ultimately attain happiness.

For this, we have society to blame. In a money-motivated world, educational institutions must implement such a mentality in order to rise to the top in the greediest of fashions. Academia has lost sight of its truest and noblest of callings: educating the youth to be the ones who progress society and possibly save a tumultuous humanity. However, this is nearly impossible to do in the current state, wherein we focus all of our efforts growing up merely to pay for and please colleges.

I acknowledge that a seemingly cynical outlook on education does not hold true for every teacher. Bethpage perpetuates this doomed cycle, but I firmly believe that my teachers do it with the purest of intentions. Our community leaders genuinely believe that this system teenagers are entranced by will be the “be all, end all.”

Some of the most caring people I have met and will probably ever meet grace these halls and instruct the future generations out of the goodness in their hearts. They inspire us all, or at least me, to be the ones to make an impact on the world. Unfortunately, their efforts might be in vain. I just do not see how we, as teenagers, can make that impact when we are so caught up in involving ourselves in every club, sport and AP class known to man…