The Horrible, No Good, Very Bad College Admission Process


Though students all over the country have resumes similar to this, many of them are rejected from their dream schools. Image by Annie Fingersh.

Annie Fingersh, Co-Editor in Chief

Write an essay that includes your best writing and something integral to your personal growth, but wait, don’t forget to be humble while also bragging about your accomplishments. Easy right? 461 Google document comments, eight meltdowns, and seemingly hundreds of hours later, my college essay was finally finished. But that was just one little cog in the never-ending machine of college applications.


Beginning with college searches in junior year and ending with finally submitting those nerve-producing time suckers, a new illness has plagued the senior class: college application fatigue. Between crushing anxiety at all hours of the day and night (yes, I too lie awake at night with intrusive thoughts of being rejected from every school) and spending all our waking time arguing with parents and teachers about essay revisions, the whole process sure has taken a toll.

Seniors often break into tears at the mere thought of college applications. Photo by Annie Fingersh.

Senior Aviva Clauer is known for her lack of sleep, all because of these lovely college applications. She says, “I spend eight hours a day working on them, four hours editing them, ten hours worrying about them, and then all I’m left with is two hours for sleep.”


In contrast, senior Zachary Liss’ college application process was a walk in the park, at least for the first few months. But, that’s because he left all the work for the very end. In the days right before his applications were due, he spent his time having countless meetings with his college guidance counselor, his tutors, and his teachers. Liss says that “though it was chaos, there was a method to it.”


Once you have your applications submitted, the hard part is over, right? Wrong. Absolutely, unequivocally wrong. I hate to break it to all of you hopeful, prospective college students, but those applications that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into will be looked at for approximately 47 seconds. Your carefully curated list of activities and artfully structured essays will be nary given a glance – and that’s the good admissions officers.

Total mental breakdowns are common when receiving feedback from teachers and parents on college essays. Photo by Annie Fingersh.

A current senior at HBHA applied to the University of Missouri Honors College and subsequently faced a little snafu with his admissions officers. He was rejected from the Honors College, and then several weeks later, received an acceptance letter. He was terribly confused, and found out that they had sent him the wrong letter. This mistake set him several weeks of scholarship work, and the student comments on the sheer stupidity of college admissions officers to make a mistake like this.


All in all though, he was relatively lucky to get an admissions officer that at least looked at his application. The bad ones reject you if they woke up late today and haven’t had their morning coffee. Their fantasy football team lost last night? Deferred. Their girlfriend broke up with them last night? Rejected. And of course, the most considerate of the bunch simply split their stack of applications in half, put one half in the accept pile and one in the reject pile.


While admissions officers are thumbing through applications while watching House of the Dragon in the background, students are privy to the wonderful waiting game. Waiting to see if slaving away for their whole school career paid off. Waiting to have their entire future determined. That’s when the worries set in.


Your grades were good enough, right? 37 ACT score. 5.15 GPA. Scored 5s on AP US History, AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, AP Microeconomics, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics, and AP Latin. I’d say you have about a 3.48 percent chance of getting into a private college. State school, though? About 3.55 percent.


Don’t worry about your activity list, though. Chess club, student council, and volunteering? Perfect. Just the “well-rounded” student every college is looking for. Except that admissions officers have a different definition of well-rounded, meaning they either cured cancer or donated a building to the college. So really, only 99 percent of students applying to college have to worry! Those heirs and heiresses who are also legacies, though, they’re set. 


But for those 99 percent who spend hundreds of hours curating the perfect application and have spent their whole lives working towards college, admissions officers thank you. You may never have even stood a chance, but at least you keep their acceptance rates low. 


Once the college application season comes to a close for the seniors, the juniors begin the harrowing, all-consuming journey, and the cycle repeats all over again.