Owen’s Opinion: College supplements

A double-edged sword

By Owen Akel, Editor-in-Chief

There’s no getting around it, the first semester of senior year is a difficult one.

This challenge is in many cases due to the college admissions process. That said, I’ve found this experience to be rewarding in many ways—giving me insight into my activities and myself that I otherwise would not have. A paramount aspect of college applications are essays, including both the Common App personal statement, as well as supplements required by individual colleges and universities. 

Given the competitive nature of this process, students are recommended to apply to 8-12 colleges according to CollegeVine. Given schools can have from one to eight supplements, the number of essays a student must write can quickly become quite large. 

Hence, seniors often have a good amount of work to complete their first semester with regard to their college applications. Mind you, this is in addition to normal coursework. 

These essays range in topic, covering topics as disparate as writing a letter to your future roommate to discussing your sexual orientation and gender identity to creating your own prompt entirely. 

That said, one commonality to all college essays—if you’re doing them right—is that they show the admissions committee a part of you.

“So much of the college application is a recounting of things past—past grades, old classes, activities the student has participated in over several years,” Jennifer Blask, Executive Director for International Admissions at the University of Rochester, said. “Essays are a chance for the student to share who they are now and what they will bring to our campus communities.” 

While seemingly simple at first, I’ve learned that writing about yourself is perhaps one one of the most difficult things one can do as we rarely consider the “why” behind our action. 

This is rightly so because the average human makes more than 35,000 decisions each day, according to UNC-TV: Science. For seniors, that is more than 51 million decisions throughout the course of high school.

This process becomes extremely reflective, the amount of thought required to provide a rationale behind each decision I’ve made in high school being beneficial in many ways, mainly in terms of coming into greater contact with myself and my motivations in life. 

A main benefit to practicing self-reflection is “knowing your core values” according to Barrie Davenport, a mindfulness expert and author. “The deeper you go into your own self, the more easily you identify your core personal values.”

In writing my college essays, I’ve learned that I care deeply for my family and friends, I appreciate putting myself into uncomfortable situations, I have a deep passion for learning, and nothing makes me happier than humor.

While many of these things were a part of my life before the college process, recognizing what I love in life has given me a new perspective on myself and a new sense of agency in regard to my decision making processes. 

So to this year’s junior class, when you begin the college admission process come next August, know that it will be grueling and painful, but—aside from being an integral part of your future—try to approach it as a unique opportunity to discover who you are.

Because it is.