It's the first month of school, and seniors are already in the doldrums. That glow of the first day of senior year is a million miles away, buried under layers of college essay drafts, emails to the teachers writing your college letters, and four failed attempts to remember your school's CEEB code. One college application is in, two more are stalled, and it seems like all you can do now is wait for something to change.
And you're right. If you want to be college-ready, it's time to go bowling.
This isn't about adding one more extracurricular to your Common App, and this isn't a way to earn that PE requirement you somehow dodged in 10th grade. This is about getting a taste of college life here and now, since bowling teaches you:
Humility: Just about everyone is a terrible bowler, and it drives you crazy that you are no exception. This is largely because you can't come to terms with the fact that the idea seems so simple -- throw the ball, knock down the pins -- but the reality is just more complex.
College is just like this. College students take four classes that each meets twice a week, and you have six daily classes in high school. With all of that free time, how can anyone possibly run out of time to study or turn in a late assignment -- especially since someone else does the cooking? Try as you may, you just don't understand the drama; but thanks to the intricacies of bowling, it will become clearer to you right around the fourth frame. Remember this freshman year.
Flexibility: Amateur keglers go to great lengths finding an outfit that goes nicely with rented bowling shoes. These fashion marvels may have one blue stripe, one red stripe, brown laces, and a spot of fluorescent orange paint sprayed on each toe, but you refuse to look bad at the bowling alley. You will scour the back of your closet, delve to the depths of your dresser drawers, and even enlist the help of your parents (!), but you will find the perfect ensemble to keep everyone's eyes off the only pair of shoes you are ever likely to wear that glow in the dark.
College is no different. Try as you may, you won't be able to escape the overcooked Friday fish casserole, the roommate with a passion for loud polka music, or the lab partner who persists on sharing their political beliefs that are the polar opposite of yours. You can't run, you can't hide, and setting your hair on fire just won't help. It's time to search high and low for a way to put the best possible face on the situation, and move forward -- even if you have to ask for help to do so.
Understanding: You've bowled the same way since you were five. The first three frames are awful, the next four frames make you feel you could be the next Dick Weber, and the last three frames give you a sore arm and a lot of time in the gutter.
Seeing the pattern of when things are about to go sour is the beginning of wisdom, and the end of life in the gutter. So do something different. Warm up your arm, don't throw the ball so hard, and remember what happens. You'll learn a little more about what works and what doesn't, and that will come in handy for the next frame of bowling, or for your college frame of mind.
You see, bowling makes you college-ready. It's all about the approach.
Follow Patrick O'Connor on Twitter: www.twitter.com/collegeisyours