The year is winding down ever so slowly: This winter season has been very brutal with the constant snowstorms, snow days and bursting water pipelines. Yet, even if our city of Chicago has experienced these misfortunes, high school seniors such as I have not backed down from putting our best foot forward in our academics.
With the completion of my college applications in December, I am now working on applying for scholarships for the duration of my senior year -- which surprisingly and sadly, is going to end in three more months. My school schedule, excluding Advanced Placement courses, has eased considerably, giving me more time to focus on scholarships, as well as allowing me to enjoy my favorite hobby: drawing art. Now that I have pushed through the most stressful part of senior year -- which included looking for colleges, adjusting to my new hectic academic schedule, and taking responsibility in my new position as Special Events Planner -- I can freely say that I am now relaxing and taking the time to reflect on my progress as a high school student and how much I've grown as an individual.
It has taken me a good while, however, to understand that I was facing the same uncomforting phase of doubt that plagues many seniors during the college application process. For the past couple of months, after I was not accepted as a Posse Foundation Scholar, I continued to push myself to keep applying for colleges.
Yet, with each submission I entered, I began to doubt that I was headed for success. The anxiety of not having a university to go to after high school graduation was building in me, and my cheerful demeanor somewhat dwindled for some time. The additional problem of determining how to pay for college also plagued me. With financial issues developing in my home, I was repeatedly thinking second thoughts about attending a college to avoid placing some of the burden on my struggling parents. I would especially avoid the conversation with my dad -- who is the only working parent in my household -- while trying to find a solution on how to pay for college on my own. It was a very difficult time for me to even accept the possibility that my parents would still have to contribute to my college expenses. Being a very humble person, I did not want that to happen, and thus, I kept thinking over about applying for a part-time job.
Eventually, however, towards the end of January, most of the self-doubt and skeptic thinking of mine dissipated, and I began to enjoy my college application process once more. January 22, 2014 everything changed completely, and since that wonderful event, I have been anxious for the month of March to come.
On this Saturday evening, I attended a Smith College prospective tea meeting, which was an alumni meet-up to speak with rising college students who wished to attend Smith College -- an all-women's college located in Northampton, Massachusetts.
During this tea, I was given the opportunity to speak with other high school students, discuss our future plans and career interests, and share our curiosity about Smith College with the alumni. When the talk with alumni began, I was showered with a bucket-load of information about the college: a freshman mentorship program in which guided newcomers into select classes for their intended major, personal dinner conversations with professors on Friday evenings, internship opportunities in the summer and study abroad programs for select majors. The Lazarus Center for Career Development was one of the topics that captured my interest the most; the alumni encouraged us to engage in the center as soon as we began our freshman year at Smith College because it offered resources and assistance in building a resume, learning the statistics about a certain career, and practicing for potential jobs using mock interviews.
At the end of the meeting, I was so excited about Smith College that I stayed a few more minutes speaking to several alumni, asking them about their campus life, their classes and study habits,and also how they dealt with overwhelming homework. Their personal adventures, accomplishments, and even silly moments at the college, all culminated in a spark of desire to place Smith College as my number one choice for post-secondary education. I left the tea with a heart pounding with anticipation -- not even the frigid cold outside was enough to freeze my growing happiness. I felt rejuvenated, as if I never had those negative emotions of self-doubt.
The moment I arrived home, I logged onto my Common Application account and set to work completing the application for Smith College. After revising and editing the writing supplement with my mentors and clicking submit, I couldn't help but smile at the confirmation page. At that moment, I finally believed that I had discovered my ideal college!
Since that short but ever-changing revelation, I have dedicated myself in finishing the rest of my senior year strong and confident, understanding that every senior in high school goes through this stressful process one way or another. I now feel reassured that I will still go to college in the fall. Even though there is still the possibility that I may not gain a spot at Smith College, the connections I made at that tea were enough to keep me notified and interested in their activities and events.
Looking back at that prospective tea, I have to say that I felt a surge of inspiration that was difficult to surface due to the stress of various activities this year. With only one week of February left, I see that March will be the month in which I make my final decisions regarding my future college career. As an 18-year-old, I now have new responsibilities to address. This is only the beginning, but it will be a fun journey.