Fitting an Impossible Ideal

I have never been in such a pressure cooked environment in my life. Two more SATs, APs, final exams, and final papers all converge over the next 6 months. Seniors are getting rejected from colleges and, amazingly, you only hear about the couple dozen kids who are going Ivy League. Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle did a front page story on the results from the SAT I and tens of thousands of others took last month. My college counselor was quoted extensively in addition to a mini-profile of a guy in my class who got a perfect score of 2400 – 1 of 100 in the country. What are lunch time discussions? People printing out US News rankings; people saying they just want to become a lawyer and make money; people blurting out “Geeze, if so-and-so had perfect SATs and 4.0 GPA and got waitlisted from Harvard, what are they looking for?” My classmate Elena Butler summed up her gripes in this eloquent post:

It’s dehumanizing. At times, I feel like I’m just another case study. My scores, my grades, even my extracurriculars/interests (that supposedly make me unique) just make me more like everyone else. In other words, all my curiosity, passions, and energy now seem two-dimensional.

I can’t be the kid who is an athlete and a musician, has straight A’s, a 2400, and a life (though I can be his best friend). Instead, I’ve realized that I want nothing more in my life than to effect change, either through an idea, invention, or discovery. But right now, I feel boring. I think this is because the college process has fostered in me the desire to fit an impossible ideal.

I only hope this desire does not recur in my life–after all, it’s nonconformity, not conformity, that wins out in the end.

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