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Ooops... and other lessons

August 2, 2013 at 8:34 am
By Jaime Anthony '06, Senior Asst. Dean

Ooops.  It turns out our little celebration for the launch of the new Common App was a bit premature.  Well, okay, maybe it wasn't premature -- indeed, the Common App did go live (at times) yesterday -- but regardless, this little hiccup does give us a nice chance to think about the fact that there will be plenty of hiccups along the way in these next nine or so months.  Consider this just one of the many blerps in the process.

Unless you're super-human, you'll hate your first, second, and seventh drafts of your college essay.  Sure, you might love the third draft, but some good-intentioned friend will surely point out a phrasing or word choice that seems off, or question the topic, or... well, learning how to accept peer criticism graciously is a key life skill.  Hooray for personal betterment!  Allow yourself some private time to reflect on your essay, and ultimately, send us the version that feels best to you.  (And, if you still can't log in to the Common App, take a look at the essay topics to get those brain cells churning.)

Another hiccup to prepare for?  Indeed, particularly while filling out the Common App activities section, and after you've sent in your application, you will probably experience some sort of panic that you haven't done the perfect combination of extracurriculars.  Maybe your soccer teams were so time-intensive that you didn't have time to also head up seven community service groups.  (That's hyperbole, of course, but you get the idea.)  Or maybe you were having so much fun with community and school theater that you didn't realize other students were doing summer academic programs.  No worries!  We know that it takes all kinds of involvement, in terms of both type and degree of commitment, to make our community function.  That's what we love about Carleton.  Rejoice in your talents, embrace new experiences, and be sure to continue to pursue the activities you love: they're great for relieving all this stress.

Prepare yourself for this potential snag in the fabric of your path to Carleton: maybe you're dead set on Carleton, but you're continuously met with blank stares when you bring it up.  There are only a few colleges in the country (minus all the ones that use the names of states, cities, and historical people) that enjoy a national or international reputation.  Well, let us lend you a hand with the argument that indeed, a college can be good even if people aren't intimately familiar with it.  Yes, we have some beautiful digital and print materials for you to share with the uninitiated, and you can email us to request copies of that stuff, but really, don't take our word for it... check out what other people are saying about Carleton.  There's some pretty good stuff there, and it'll surely help give you and us some legit credibility Oh, and if you keep getting the "Well, is that in Minnesota?  You know it's really cold in Minnesota." we've all gotten at some point?  Tell them Minnesota winters build character, and move on. 

Finally, the ultimate hiccup of all: having to actually choose where to enroll.  Chances are, you'll have put some good thought into your application list, and you'll have several different options (unless, of course, you get in Early Decision).  WOOHOO!  Congratulations in advance on your good work throughout this process.  Don't expect your enrollment decision to come easily: it is a big decision, after all.  But, it's just one of many big life decisions you'll have to make.  Your friends will choose their respective colleges for all sorts of reasons: a specific academic strength, the level of school spirit, an amazing tour guide, or a strong financial aid package.  Those reasons might not resonate with you, and that's okay.  You're the one who has to enroll.  Sure, take your friends' advice, but ultimately, the decision rests with you.  Take some time to reflect on the things that really matter to you, research those different characteristics at all the schools you're considering (or even use those qualities to help find new schools to explore), and arm yourself with the courage to make a great decision.

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