Wise: Reliving the college application process

Meredith Wise

When I think about the last few years, one thing that stands out in my mind as a constant presence is filling out applications. It started senior year when I had to apply to colleges. Then I had to do scholarship applications, etc, etc.

After getting in to Northwestern, I was so relieved. I didn’t have to worry about where I was going to go to school, but I also didn’t think I had to worry about applications any more.

Well, as most of you can guess, I was very wrong. Over and over since I began school here, I’ve filled out applications: for student groups, committees, study abroad, officer positions, volunteer opportunities. I even had to apply to be able to write this column every week. Most of these applications have to be followed by interviews. So it’s been a steady game of trying for things. And I know that next year, I’ll have to start applying to jobs and grad schools.

So in light of all this, there is one application process that I would really like to not have a part in: my high-school senior sister’s college search. From a recent sample poll, a disproportionate amount of Northwestern students seem to be oldest children. So I’m sure a lot of you can relate to having to look backwards when you were growing up. Going to kids’ basketball games after you grew out of them, painfully watching a sibling scratch away at the violin when you were already a virtuoso.

While I never minded looking back to these things, the college application process is something I never wanted to relive. But this summer, my mother and sister repeatedly asked me for help looking on College Board for average test scores, proofing essays, and remembering every activity she’s ever participated in.

My question is, why do they need me so bad? My mom has the experience of doing it with one child already, and my sister has one of those new-fangled college coaches helping her with everything. Also, half of the schools she is applying to don’t even require essays.

When I applied, I had to figure out everything for myself. The process had changed beyond recognition since my parents applied, and my mom trusted me to do it without paying someone to help me.

Sometimes I feel like being the oldest sibling is like being a pioneer. I have to brave new frontiers. I had to be the guinea pig for all parenting experiments, and I’ve learned recently that my experience will be called on in EVERY situation.

There are things I love about being the oldest. I’ve gained leadership experience, I’ve gotten to be a parent-sibling liaison, and I get to be proud every time my brother and sister have a great accomplishment.

But sometimes, I’d like them to figure things out for themselves. And college apps are one of these things. I’ll be a comforter when the No’s come in and a congratulator when the Yes’s do, but I thought when I turned in my last college application almost three years ago, that I would never have to mess with that again. It’s an experience that every high school senior must go through, and I’ve paid my dues in that department.

Meredith Wise is a Weinberg junior. She can be reached at [email protected]