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Do what you love, not what looks good on college apps

Graphic by Noah '16
Graphic by Noah ’16

Do what you love. You’re enough. This is what hit me the most about Rachel Simmons’ talk about pressure, success and self-esteem, and I believe that we, as Marlborough girls, should make her message lasting. Marlborough, where stress should be the fifth core value, needs to be reminded that perfecting the college trifecta—grades, scores and extracurriculars—is ultimately not what defines us.

The college industrial complex is real at Marlborough, and girls should not feel pressured to do everything for college. Girls often feel like they have to accomplish the extraordinary to be able to plug it into a college essay. There’s an unspoken ideal that you have to play a competitive sport, take as many APs, have a leadership position and serve the community to show colleges that you’re the right fit.  When we shoot for this ideal of being a super student, we often overlook our own stability and ultimate goals beyond college, and we put ourselves at risk for a crash-and-burn. Simmons shared her own “crash-and-burn” moment when she was at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Dropping out of her Rhodes Scholarship, she said she had realized that finally after years of overachieving that her successes did not make her happy. We should learn from Simmons’ experience.

Thus, instead of taking on responsibilities because we feel like we have to, we should take Simmon’s message into account and remind ourselves that if we do what we love, then we are enough. There’s no one to impress, and colleges will see that what we are spending time on is something we are passionate about. Especially nearing the end of the school year when we decide what to take on next, we should keep in mind what we love to do. Simmons suggested that we take out a piece of paper and divide activities into those we feel like we have to do and those we love doing. I believe this personal inventory is a great opportunity to evaluate our daily activities and their worth.

Now, I’m not preaching to do only what you want to do; life doesn’t work that way. One can’t only do the things that one loves. That’s selfish and unreasonable. But I believe that the current Marlborough and nationwide mindset pressures girls to take on activities that they don’t love for the sole enterprise of college admissions. It is trite: “do what you love.” Yet, I believe that we should not let this speaker pass us by without absorbing her message.