Opinion: The ‘shrinking plurality’ of desired colleges


By Ben Gotfredson

Student, Cathedral Catholic High School

Admission into college is by no means a given. Before yesterday I figured if I worked steadily on my grades and my extracurriculars, acceptance into college would just fall into place. And in one way it has. All the ammunition is sitting in front of me to get into the college I want to go to next fall. Yet it’s up to me to load up that ammunition and activate it. And in my opinion that’s the most difficult concept to grasp.

It’s as if a baseball player turned his career records halfway through his career into the Hall of Fame. How is it possible for a 17 year old to earnestly believe that his body of work is ready to be shipped off and analyzed by a mega-university? With today’s pressure on a student to pursue every conceivable activity to improve their resume, it’s nearly impossible to amass a collection of AP classes and extracurriculars that would blow back a college counselor.

So an alternative is provided: Impressing a university with your personality and your individuality. This last-ditch effort is employed by those who aren’t confident in just their resume. But creativity and uniqueness can be limited when compiled into 750 words typed on a Macbook. And in the end your uniqueness is determined by those who read your essay, and the mood they’re in at that particular moment.

A lot of people are probably reading this and thinking, “What a cynical 17 year old.” But this is an unfiltered opinion of the college process, which many of us high schoolers discuss among each other but rarely to adults. This frustration towards the system is only growing. The truth is that since 2000 many schools are incrementally getting harder to get into. Average GPA of those accepted is rising, SAT scores are going up by the hundreds.

Whether this is a result of the baby boomer generation sending the bulk of their kids off to college is up to debate. I believe it has more to do with a shrinking plurality in what schools kids want to apply to, and this is especially prevalent in Carmel Valley. These are colleges such as the UC schools, USC, and LMU. While creativity may lie in the application, it sure doesn’t lie in the school selection. And as people put the smaller schools on the bottom of their list and high school counselors stockpile the applications to the larger universities, the universities still accept the same number of kids. Since I’m still in the middle of this process, I can’t give much advice.

If I revisit this point in my life next year, hopefully I will have something encouraging to say about it, but for now I will just continue this hectic routine every senior partakes in.

Ben Gotfredson is a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School. He will be writing a column from a teen’s perspective for this newspaper throughout the year.