Not for you, Harvard

As I’m finishing up my junior year, I’m hearing more and more about college – “Hey, Shari, what schools are you looking at?” “SAT or ACT?” “Which SAT subject tests are you taking?” “What’d you get on the SAT?” “What’s your GPA?” “What extra-curriculars do you do?” “What’s your class rank?” “What classes do you take?” “What do you want to major in?”

Choosing a college will be the largest decision that I will have made up to that point in my life.

Frankly, I’m not sure that I’m ready for such a decision. I feel like I’m still a kid — I get nervous making phone calls, I color in coloring books, and I like making sandcastles on the beach. When I was younger, I had always assumed that I’d feel so much older than I do right now.

Although I understand that this decision is tremendous and that my actions today go into determining what colleges I get accepted to, there is nothing that I do ever that is “for college” (with the exception of standardized tests such as the SAT). By that, I mean that I am not an editor for my school newspaper because I think that that is something that a college would like to see in an applicant; I am an editor because I enjoy to be one. I vie for good grades because I enjoy feeling satisfied with my work, and I enjoy my classes at school because I like learning, not for some university’s sake.

It makes me incredibly mad when people say that they do things “for college” or when my parents tell me to do something “for college.” I will do things that make me happy and that I enjoy doing, and if that activity aligns with something that colleges like, sure, that’s great.

My reasoning for this is that you shouldn’t constantly be focusing on tomorrow. If I spent all my time focusing on college, then when I’m in college, I’ll be spending my time focusing on graduate school, and then I’ll spend graduate school focusing on what the heck I’m going to do with the rest of life. It is definitely a great idea to plan for the future, but the future should not be anyone’s primary focus.

A lot of attention will certainly be paid in applying to and choosing a college on my part, but I refuse to live today for the sake of putting it on my college application.

I’ve been blogging for the Times of Israel for 16 months now. And, these blog posts are not for you, Harvard, just saying.

About the Author
Shari is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. From January until June of 2015, she studied abroad in Israel on the Tichon Ramah Yerushaliyim (TRY) program.