Lisabeth’s Look on Life

For the past three years I have found myself in journalism class, surrounded by seniors stressing and obsessing about their college applications and essays. The opinion page suggestion board overflowed with rehashing all things college, and I, as an underclassmen, always felt they were being far too self-centered and concerned with covering something that only applied to less than 25 percent of the student population.

Now, I would be a hypocrite if I said I haven’t done the same, texting my friends frantically as deadlines approach, begging them to read over my essay “one last time,” logging into Naviance every time I’m in front of a computer, and stalking my prospective school’s Instagram pages relentlessly.

Is this college application process really such a big deal, though? While 90 percent of Hereford seniors are college-bound, not all schools have the same statistics. According to a New York Times April 25, 2014 article, ‘Fewer U.S. Graduates Opt For College After School,’ “the proportion of new American high school graduates who go on to college — a figure that rose regularly for decades — now appears to be declining. Last October [2013], just 65.9 percent of people who had graduated from high school the previous spring had enrolled in college.”

College applications provide stress and a panic-driven sense of being overwhelmed, but only for those stuck smack-dab in the middle of them. They overwhelm us college-bound seniors and cause us to have blinders on; we can no longer see the other things going on around us.

When I think back to freshmen year, I remember this crazy obsession my peers had with dating upperclassmen. If you were dating someone older, you were totally ‘hot stuff.’ Come, sophomore year, the social status acquired from dating someone older had lessened. Now, as a senior, I don’t care who knows I’m dating someone older than I am. It’s no longer a defining part of my identity.

Yet isn’t that how all of life’s quintessential moments are? Right after you get your driver’s license, you take an Instagram selfie #watchtheroads, text your friends uncontrollably using way too many exclamation marks and celebration emojis, and drive off into the sunset. Your friends who are dreading the test grill you for information, but those who have already passed are rather apathetic. They already passed the test and have a car. Been there, done that.

When you first start high school and decide to join a sports team, you spend the offseason in the weight room, lifting weights and making sure you’re the strongest, fastest, and most dedicated team player out there. Cuts are dreaded. All underclassmen want is to make themselves indispensable to the team, guaranteeing their spot on the staring roster.

Yet that drive and determination wanes with upperclassmen and varsity status. The coaches already know players and their abilities; they are well aware of who possesses the drive and determination to make the team greater. Veteran athletes no longer spend so much energy dreading and fearing tryouts, but rather just enjoy the time playing the final years of high school athletics.

When someone is in the middle of a stage in life, one’s views can often become narrowed compared to everything else going on with those around them. The most important thing in life seems to be what we are currently so wrapped up in. Just don’t forget the words of Taylor Swift: “In your life, you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team. But I didn’t know it at fifteen.”

Never fear, seniors. Late nights entering your parents’ tax information into the Common App will come to a close. The endless essays and college supplements and revisions will be over. With time, the frenzy and fear will subside, and we will look back on this as a crazy-amazing time in our lives.

Underclassmen, if you’re feeling left out, your time will come, too. But you might just have to wait until the class of 2016 is applying for grad school and getting engaged.