This was an assignment I did for our academic writing class at Wego Senior High School. I never thought about publish it here. But after hearing some students say it was useful, I read it again. Loved it, and hopefully others can benefit from it as well.
Dear Newest Seniors,
So, I was pulling some of the essays that I’ve written over the past year and I found this, a note for myself I wrote around October, days before the Early Decision deadline.
“Why am I here? Trying to show the best side of myself in these essays? Is the life of a senior supposed to be this way? Always thinking of ways to humblebrag, always trying to stretch the truth just to convince my readers that I’m worthy?
As a seventeen-year-old, I don’t think I have the best stories to tell just yet. Not that I don’t have them, it’s just that they’re unfinished. I’m still creating them to this moment. In fact, I’m confident that the lessons I’ve learned through the past two years would enable me to accomplish the most incredible feats this year. Many students I know try to finish their stories during their junior year. They believe it’s time to wrap everything up for the ultimate reflection that would impress their readers.”
I’d like to think that you’d know what I mean by that. I’d like to think that you’d understand the notion that preparing yourself for the future is much more important than preparing yourself to look good in the application process. Isn’t this what high school is all about? Becoming the best version of yourself to embrace what comes after?
If you’d ask me to write this letter a year ago, I would be stressing the importance to be proactive. The problem is not that getting into great schools is bad. In fact, it might be one of the best things that could happen to your life. The problem is often our attitudes towards it. A passive one. During our school years, we get used to being passive, we get used to following instructions from the teachers, we get used to cramming up all the knowledge before tests just to delete them afterward, we get used to checking off boxes from the Get-Into-Your-Dream-School To-Do list. We forget the importance and joy of trying something for ourselves and going through all the trial-and-error. We forget the little accidents we’d face if we took a proactive approach to life and learning. We forget that life is full of infinite possibilities and it is our job to take control and navigate through it all. So, start becoming the protagonist of your lives, and put your first mark on life’s intimidating canvas. Life isn’t just about the shiny moments. After all, it’s the challenges you face that write your life story.
But I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not this preachy side of me is worth your time. Because the more I delve into student proactivity, the more I realize it doesn’t solve all problems. Not everyone has to lead, not everyone is destined to become a pioneer. And even if you want to step on this road. It’s hardly ever the case that you’d ever reap your rewards in a short amount of time. And like I always say, there doesn’t have to be a silver lining to this. Seriously, don’t expect us to say that senior life after applications is rainbows and butterflies, you still got tons of projects, presentations, errands to take care of. I can’t put it plainer than this, life sucks, failures suck, rejections suck, rejections from colleges suck even more. But as you reach rock bottom, and start persuading yourself that rock bottom keeps getting deeper and deeper, remember this.
Whenever I wish to start a deep conversation with someone, I start with the question, what is something that you truly believe in but others don’t. For me, the answer is that I try to do all things with the mindset that I’d win even if I’d lose. In brief, fall forward. Rather than having something to fall back on, falling forward allows you to see the ground ahead.
If you fail to be selected as the young diplomat or cicero debate team, you would in turn get used to rejections, and you would have more time for yourself to pursue your passions proactively instead of just participating in competitions. Fall forward. If you weren’t selected as the president of your club, start learning leading by being the follower and knowing how being a follower feels like so that you could become an empathetic leader in the future. Alternatively, create your own club, organization, or NPO that actually interests you. Make a decision to take responsibility to make the world around you better. If you fail, then at least you learn some soft skills and get to delve into something that you truly love. Fall forward. If after everything you’ve worked on, be it the SATs, the TOEFLs, the extracurriculars, the essays, and whatever efforts you’ve put into the application process, you got rejected from your dream school, your second dream school, and even your third dream school. It’s totally normal. In fact, the rejection from your dream school might be the best thing that ever happened to you. There’s a higher possibility that you’d choose a school that fits you more rather than a school that has a higher ranking. After all, if you structured your high school life around becoming the best version of yourself and not how you look best on paper, no matter where you should go, you’d be ready. So fall forward.
All the best,