Who are you? And why do colleges deserve to know

Hannah Vogel, Opinions Editor

What is more important, having a decent GPA and taking AP classes, or having a stronger sense of yourself, determination and exemplary extracurriculars? That question depends on the type of student you are.

In my opinion, colleges these days tend to accept numbers, not people. In high school, you take the ACT, the SAT and AP classes, and they spit back numbers. Your GPA: a number. Test scores: numbers. Suddenly, all your capability and knowledge comprise numbersthey define you. This isn’t how it should be.

Some people are born genuinenessthey have no problem receiving the acceptable numbers; however, some people aren’t born reciting the theory of relativity at birth. These people may have a talent or a passion for something that sets them apart. But colleges will never know if their first instinct is looking at the numbers.

Say you’re an aspiring filmmaker, journalist, artist, musician, writer or photographer, but you don’t have the advanced classes or the ACT score or the GPA. What to do? An application should not simply entail those numbers. Of course, if a person doesn’t make a conscious effort to excel and does not care if his or her grades suffer, perhaps he or she isn’t college material. Furthermore, if applying exclusively to an art program, he or she may only need to submit a portfolio. Today, however, there are many kids who have a GPA of 3.6 – 3.8 and immediately don’t think they are good enough for some schools —those accepting 4.0 – 4.2 students on average— and don’t bother applying.

Colleges need to recognize the arts, recognize community service, recognize outstanding accomplishments and recognize those who work hard. The dependence on numbers places an obscene amount of pressure on students todayno wonder so many have anxiety disorders, depression or insomnia.

An application is just paper. Papers that are littered with numbers of no substance. Papers containing financial information and a “personal statement” answered with 650 words. How can you know everything unique and compelling and interesting about a person in 650 words?

You can’t.

It’s impossible for students to express themselves fully and impossible for the admissions officer to understand all the student may have to offer. Instead, applicants are reduced to numbers. Suddenly, humans become two-dimensional, a clump of numbers and words on a page. Each student loses all individuality, all personality, because all applications appear homogeneous.

The majority of high school equips you for the future, for college, preparing you to succeed in your classes and complete the right credits and courses—which, of course, is all valid and essential. But what about accomplishing what you want to do outside of academics? What about living a distinct and well-rounded life? What about trying out for school productions or a sports team? High school is for college, college is for jobs and jobs are for your children; and then the cycle repeats. Students don’t question to what extent they’re prepared for life in the real world. They’re too preoccupied as they study for their future—a lesson no school curriculum can teach.

If you work hard, it should be enough. If you are passionate about something and stand out in that area, it should be enough. So what if you’re not a 4.2 student. GPA or test scores should not determine how intelligent you are. They don’t have a voice. These numbers don’t have personality, you do. Don’t worry whether you meet certain criteria, because, at the end of the day, one thing remains immutable, who you are —and that, my friends, is enough.