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The Collegiate Arms Race

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USA Today

USA Today

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

USA Today

Ashley Kang, News Editor

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  At this time of year, in mid-March, high school seniors become nothing more than America googling the meaning of dotard following Kim Jong Un’s name calling of President Donald Trump: slightly alarmed, slightly confused, slightly humored, but mostly just aware of the fact that a native Korean speaker has a more expansive English vocabulary than us.  In other words, we become hyper-aware that there are others out there who know more than us, others who do more than us, others who seem superior to us despite everyone being alarmed, confused, and possibly humored by the arms race we have been accustomed to call by its synonym, the college application process.

  To demonstrate: the University of California campuses received a record number of applications for admission for the fall of 2018.  The previous record for admissions applications was the year before, for the fall of 2017. In all, the previous records show 13 consecutive years of record-breaking highs, each year being outdone by the next. By now, this trend is blissfully anticipated by universities: for them, a blip is more abnormal than any rate of exponential growth.  

  Writing this as I am currently going through the college process therefore is interesting, because I am writing not from the perspective of someone looking up dotard on google, but rather someone frantically mistyping half the letters of dotard on their phone keyboard for the 44th time that day. The typing is frantic and continuous, but the fingers are not always mine.  

  The fingers are the seemingly innocuous emails from colleges that notify you of an update to your application portal, only for you to realize that the college simply wanted to let you know that your FAFSA form was received.  

  The fingers are the people on College Confidential who ask you to “chance” them on the likelihood of admission to a specific college, as if fellow 17 year old teenagers can control the brain of the admissions officers. Last time I checked, that only happened on Spongebob, and the end goal was the secret Krabby Patty recipe, not a college admissions offer.  

  But finally, the fingers are all of us who perpetrate the very process we loathe. All of us who apply to more colleges than we can count on our frantically typing fingers, all of us who visit the College Confidential site to see how people as alien as Kim Jong Un are faring in the process, all of us who have written so many supplemental essays about ourselves, yet are merely the ghost writers of our own narratives.  

  I do not exclude myself from this arms race; I do not write this as a distant narrator who wishes to separate herself from this process, because frankly, I cannot. I have been typing the word dotard into google for the past four years, but soon my fingers will stop and I will know the definition.

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The Collegiate Arms Race