The word “college” is not a swear word, and should not be a trigger word. In the Marlborough community, the college conversation is something that looms over students throughout their time in the Upper School. Statements such as, “Don’t talk about college,” “You can’t trust anyone” and “It’s best to keep everything to yourself” should not be echoed daily, as they foster a culture of secrecy. Instead of being revered as a high-intensity competition between classmates, the college process should be framed as an exciting exploration of your future. Furthermore, discussions surrounding the college process are extremely nuanced and have been a relevant topic within the community for years. I am going to address what I perceive to be the primary issue with the college conversation in an educated fashion.
To begin, the negative reputation of the college conversation is generational. Words of “wisdom” from upperclassmen continuously place an unfavorable connotation on applying to college. The consistency of pessimistic comments about this process is passed on from each senior class, leading students to believe that applying to college is the most difficult and gruesome time in your life. Yes, there is a lot of work involved when applying — not only are you finding what schools (based on online information and select tours) would be fit for you — you are also tasked with writing personal essays for each application. With all of the school work and activities that come with being a first-semester senior, it can be difficult to manage your time properly to meet the strict deadlines of applications. Therefore, this is the most difficult part of the college process.
Next, the crux of the college conversation: to have it or not to have it. In my experience with Marlborough college counseling, I have found that students are often advised not to talk about the college process because of inevitable gossip from peers. However, the promotion of secrecy is what drives competition between classmates. If news of any students’ college process is shared within the class, it is subject to be gossip. If the stigma around the conversation itself were to be removed altogether, starting with the grade-level deans and college counselors, the college process could be more of a positive experience as students would be supported by their classmates.
The college process should be talked about. There should be nothing triggering or wrong about discussing the hopes and dreams of your future with your beloved classmates. In conversation with students at other Los Angeles private high schools, I have found that Marlborough’s competitive and hush-hush route of viewing the college process is completely singular. In conclusion, I urge all Marlborough students to speak more openly about the college process to remove the connotation of secrecy and competition between classmates. The college process is very exciting, and I only have hope for the future of the college conversation at Marlborough.
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