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What I wish I knew – Theo Weinberger ’21

The first semester of your senior year of high school is one characterized by a period of strife and stress also known as the college application process. College applications, commonly full of looming deadlines and standardized testing, are a main point of stress in what would otherwise be a wind down year for students who are nearing the end of their four year stretch of public schooling. If I could tell my 17 year old self something about the college admission process, I would tell myself not to take the application personally, and to focus my efforts on finding the best matched school for me.

Where I grew up in Silicon Valley, the easiest way for students to pave a way to afford to stay in their hometown was to get accepted to a good college, get a good degree, and get a good job, primarily in the tech industry. As a result, it was no surprise to me to see my fellow classmates beating themselves up over the admission process. It’s hard to blame them. After all, the first step in this three step stress trap of Silicon Valley, going to a prestigious college, is entirely dependent on the college application.

Even I fell victim to the contagious idea that I had to get accepted into a so called “good college”, a college with a competitive acceptance rate and a well known name. In my senior year, I applied to 17 different schools, of which seven turned me down. These rejections (or as I saw them, failures) handed out by well-known schools devastated me. It didn’t help that many of my classmates were accepted to some of these schools, including Cal Poly SLO and UC San Diego. This feeling of failure sent me into college with sentiments that I was inadequate and not good enough, sentiments which I carried with me even into my freshman year of college.

Now that I’ve started my junior year of college, knowing what I know now, I would’ve chosen Juniata even if I had been accepted to SLO. Even though SLO is a renowned school, I know now that I am more likely to succeed academically in a small school where I can foster close relations with my professors. I wish my 17 year old self knew that even if I get rejected by what people think are “good” schools, it is more productive and less stressful to focus my energy into getting into the best matched school for me, rather than a place people expect me to go.

-Theo Weinberger ’21, Communication POE, California Skater Dude