How I Would Re-Write My College Essay As A 20-Something

Dear Dean Of Admission,

Excuse me for being rash, but I will not answer your prompts or follow your suggestions because I am burnt out.

I have just finished 12 years of schooling where I was told to “sit down, shut up and raise my hand.” I was ordered to study subjects that were recommended by my counselors and learn the basics of algebra, chemistry, physics, calculus, Spanish, English, American history, world history and dodgeball. I was given textbooks to memorize and note cards to read from.

I was never told to come up with original ideas when it came to formulas and equations. I was never given off-the-wall writing assignments where I could pencil thoughts that didn’t pertain to a theme. I was never asked to study what cultures interested me or which world leaders appealed to my own ideals. I was given maps to fill and presidential charts to order by chronological year.

To be honest, I don’t know what the hell I want to do with my life or what passions, hobbies and non-profit organizations interest me most. I don’t know why I deserve to go to your institution, what I’ll study once I’m there or why I want to go to school.

Forced to study for AP exams and placement tests to get into schools like yours, I spent my Saturdays and Sundays in fluorescent halls, staring at the checkered wall behind my bedroom desk. Obsessed with getting into a college my parents deemed acceptable to tell their friends, I didn’t really pursue much outside of school except wasting time with friends and watching bad TV.

I didn’t go to jazz clubs or spend six months in India. I didn’t paint portraits or create impressionist works that depict the subtle agonies of life. I didn’t watch indie films or documentaries about revolutionaries and rock stars. I didn’t follow a surgeon or witness a murder. I didn’t attend protests or walk the 500 mile trail from Spain to Portugal.

So excuse me if I’m not ready to tell you what I want to do or where I want to be in four years. Excuse me for not knowing what my interests are strongly aligned around. And especially excuse me for not having some profound childhood story of raw material that distinguishes my life from the mundane ones of my classmates.

If you do want to know what upsets me, I can tell you that. I can tell you it upsets me that the art program wasn’t pushed more heavily by my school or parents. It upsets me that kids with instruments weren’t envied and respected. It upsets me that the curricula weren’t flexible and teachers weren’t receptive to new ideas.

It upsets me that my worth is based on how well I can memorize texts and formulas. It upsets me that numbers after my name dictate my acceptance to higher education. It upsets me that for 18 years no one told me that life is so much more than the classroom, yet I will constantly be judged on my ability to perform inside one.

To be honest, I’m tired of school. I’m tired of being taught, rather than learning for myself. I’m tired of being told what’s important and what’s a waste of time. I’m tired of putting importance on what will make money and what people will respect. I’m tired of the books, the tests and the system.

If I go to your school, I will use it for myself. I will take classes that interest me. I will search for my passion within your hallways and electives. I will read all your books and spend most of my time in the library or on the lawns. I will go abroad and study in cities that practice other languages and ideals. I will go to class because I want to learn, not because I have to. I will talk to my classmates to get to know them, not because we’re assigned partners.

So if you decide to accept me, I will be glad to go. However, if you don’t, I’ll gladly learn my lessons somewhere else.

Photo via We Heart It