A Letter to Myself Before I Begin College Applications


Michelle Lee, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Dear Michelle,

By the time you read this letter, you’ll be done with college applications. How does it feel? Does it feel like high school is over, or does it feel like just the beginning? As of now, I have barely begun thinking about writing my college essays. This is the summer you had dreaded for the past three years, but for some reason, I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be. Maybe it’s because of the pandemic? Maybe it’s because I still feel like a junior because my junior year was cut short? I am not quite sure, but the stress of deadlines and submissions has not hit me just yet. However, as I start to think about college applications, I have realized something: Preparing for a higher education has made me think about my past more than I have in the past five years. 

“What was the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced?” “What is an event that has sparked personal growth?” These are all questions that have prompted me to take a look back at my 16 years of life and really think about what I was able to accomplish in the world. I guess that, especially during high school, I was too busy looking ahead and running straight forward to look behind at my past. In a way, I’ve always thought this was good; I’ve never really let my past hold me back from my accomplishments and experiences. However, the recent reflection on my past has caught me off guard; I feel like I have become a completely different person from three years ago. It caused me to think that maybe I don’t know myself as much as I think I do. That’s a super scary thought, considering how I’ve always prided myself on knowing exactly who I am and what I am going to do in the future. This past week, I remembered that in third grade, I knew all the words to the Beatles’ album “1.” I remembered that in fourth grade, I cried that my bedsheets weren’t pink and clashed with the rest of my room. I remembered that in fifth grade, I lost my elementary school’s student government election, receiving only 11 votes. These were memories that I haven’t thought about in years.

I don’t know what’s worse: having too much to write about or too little to write about. During my walk through memory lane these past weeks, I’ve realized how much the people reading my college applications won’t get to know about me. They won’t know that in 8th grade I cried over having to choose between two puppies. They won’t know the many painstaking hours I spent in 10th grade contemplating whether a guy liked me back or not. To them, my life will merely be 650 words on a paper. To them, I’m just another manilla folder that they’ll spend six minutes reading. 

I think everyone would agree with me when I say that you can’t get to know a person’s full life in a matter of six minutes. The thing is, millions of students did this before me, millions of students are doing the same thing this year, and millions of students will do this in the future. I am definitely not the only one who has thought about college applications like this. So what makes me different from everyone else? I guess that’s what I’m supposed to convey in 650 words. 

So I’ll end with the regular “wherever you get in, you will be happy” and “just be yourself and you’ll be where you belong.” The weird thing is that I like how these phrases become less and less cliché as time passes. I seriously do believe that wherever you go, you will be able to make the most of your education. You’re going to meet a lot of people you like, and a lot of people you don’t like. You’re going to eat lots of new food and miss your dog at home (unless you’re commuting from home). These are a couple of solid things that I don’t have to worry about being a mystery. 

I think it will be okay. Maybe I’m saying that to reassure my subconscious thoughts of dread, but in the end I think it will be fine. Wherever you’re going, congratulations. Relish your time as a second-semester senior. If you still don’t know where you’re going, don’t worry; it’s out of your hands now.