I hate flying. That’s kind of a strange confession for an admissions Dean whose job it is to travel far and wide speaking to students about my university, right? But it’s true. I don’t enjoy the feeling of flying. I blame it on being “spoiled” by my first flight as a high school senior. My classmates and I were headed to DisneyWorld for Grad Night – when the Magic Kingdom gets shut down from midnight until sunrise so that graduating high school seniors can go to concerts and ride Space Mountain without standing in line. We traveled on a chartered plane – a 747! Most people have probably never been on a 747. It has two levels and is basically like flying in a small townhouse. The skies were clear, and turbulence non existent thanks to the massiveness of this plane.
Fast forward a couple of years to my next flight. I had gotten out of the “practice” of flying, and so my anticipation grew as my next journey into flight drew near. There would be no 747. But there would be cramped spaces. Lots more movement. Anxiety. Lots of it. As the wheels lifted off the ground I remember thinking “if we can just get through the bumpy clouds, it will be okay”. And then, “if we can just get through this turbulence, it will be okay.”
I promise this story is going somewhere…
Yes, my college admissions experience was a while ago. But, I still clearly remember the feelings that went along with it. Anticipation: How would college be different from my high school experience? I was excited about the destination (college) but truly terrified about the path to getting there. Anxiety: I remember the anxiety of testing and waiting for a decision, imagining that a college admissions committee was going to be judging my “worth” based on a bunch of numbers and letters. Now that I work in admissions, I know that grades and testing are but one part of the process – they tell us something about you, but not the entire story. Your essays, activities and recommendation letters are really important pieces of the puzzle, too!
While I can tell you to not worry through this process, I can guarantee that most of you won’t heed that advice. (Just like my flying companion telling me that “it’s just a little turbulence” doesn’t completely put my mind at ease!) There’s no denying, it’s a stressful time. But, now that I’m on the other side of the table, I’m here to tell you that the anxiety and anticipation of the college admissions experience passes. Just like my anxiety on a flight eases up as the plane glides past the clouds and toward the sun (or the moon!) and I tell myself to take some deep breaths, I hope that you, too, will remember to breathe through this process. And, as I do everytime I step off the jetway and onto a plane, I hope that you will step outside of your comfort zone this fall to explore new opportunities in your school or in your community and show us through your essays how these new adventures have shaped you. Finally, after you’ve submitted your application, having done everything you can to present your best self to the committee, “sit back and enjoy the flight”. Wheels up!
photo credit: L0nglost
Feature Image used through creative commons license by Flickr username Andrey. Original photo can be found here.