College application overwhelms

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Rebecca Kelliher

A toppling pile of college guidebooks lies in one corner of my room like my own private library. Yet, in the end, most of those college books, from The Princeton Review to Kaplan, can only get me so far on this quest for the perfect college.

Over the summer, I essentially worshiped my The Best 366 Colleges, reading about new colleges every night until they all began to sound the same. There are the quirky liberal arts schools packed with hipsters wearing flannel. There are the big universities where students paint their faces blue to pack the stadiums. And there’s the Ivy Leagues, which the book essentially warns you not to apply to unless you have some sort of death wish.

Of course, this habit of learning about too many colleges soon resulted in me adamantly wanting to apply Early Decision to a new school every week.

My most ridiculous college book, however, was College Essays that Made a Difference. Although there are some brilliant essays written in this book that real students used in their applications, the “real students” they chose sound more like fearsome over-achievers with perfect test scores. Let’s just say that you wouldn’t want to be stranded in a dark alley with one of them in the fear that they might sprout tentacles and suck out your brains, revealing themselves to be the aliens they truly are.

One such alien is Robyn Rose Schneider on page 292 of the guidebook. In high school Robyn held leadership positions in the Aspiring Authors Society and humor magazine — both of which she founded. She was the manager for school plays and the varsity team mascot. Robyn donated over 1,000 books to children’s homes, volunteered at a local library and wrote an advice column for the local newspaper. Robyn also signed a book deal to publish a young adult novel, created a Web site based on her search for a literary agent, and worked on a collection of short stories before she sent out her applications. Oh, and we forgot to mention that Robyn also tutored Korean middle school children English.

Aside from the obvious jaw-dropping response I had from learning about dear Robyn, I couldn’t help but laugh at how unbelievable this girl was. But that’s the point — she’s literally unbelievable, as in I hesitate whether or not she’s an actual human being or a robot with a circuit board in the back of her head who is programmed to intimidate normal people like me.

The truth is, reading too many college guidebooks, reference books and essay-writing books will probably only serve to scare you to death if you don’t know what you’re looking for — or they will limit your perception of reality. Like most things in life, it’s best to go at these books and the entire college process in moderation.

Of course, a good sense of humor can’t hurt either.

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