I always pictured the summer before my senior year of high school being spent with my friends. Instead, I am in my bed, looking at the pictures of other people and their friends in the photos on college websites. Instead of attending cookouts, I am looking at the restaurants nearby different colleges. Instead of...YOU KNOW WHAT? I don't even need to follow the rule of threes to prove my point. College has become my baby, and made every advertisement on my computer screen a picture for some sketchy online college with a weird name like "Northeastern Sphinx College of Self-Esteem". Fellow teens, remember when you got a Club Penguin account and then immediately forgot why you used to get on the internet before Club Penguin? That's how I feel now. In the same way I used to rush home from school to deck out my igloo and pamper my puffles, I now live for looking up residence halls and recreation centers. However, unlike those golden Club Penguin days, I can't buy a 6-month membership to college for $29.99.
The idea of college right now is like a shadow. I am not always paying attention to it, but it's always there. While it is only four years of my life, it is FOUR YEARS of my life. It's short, but also pretty long, varying on which perspective you take. This is the biggest purchase I have ever had to contemplate. It's not something I can return, like that pair of high-waisted shorts I bought that made me look like a soccer mom. I"m already super stressed, and it doesn't help that every adult I talk to is like, "Oh, you're going to be a senior! Where are you going to college? What are you going to major in? What are you going to name your firstborn child?" I wish I could just be eight again, when college was not even on my mind because I was too busy learning to play "Ode to Joy" on the recorder. College is everywhere now. "College applications...College tours...College Road Trip, the film starring Raven Symone..." whisper the ghosts in my closet.
It really does feel like I am pregnant with a college baby right now. I am picking out t-shirts and making lists of cute bedspreads, preparing for my little one's arrival. I have a preference for how my baby will be and look, but I know ultimately the outcome is not in my control. I have bought books and been to the deepest depths of weird internet forums to prepare me for my future out of exasperation. My friends and I talk to each other like mothers in a pregnant lady yoga class, talking about our pets and the weather until some godforsaken devil brings up the elephant in the room, our impending milestone, and our smiles turn forced, our hands sweaty.
College searching should be fun, not so anxiety-inducing that my nails are just constantly bitten down all the way. I should be enjoying my summer, not desparately searching for the answers to a question that will not even be considered for months. For us students seeking to attend an even moderately selective college, this process that is supposed to be fun is just sucking the fun out of 2015. It is strange that college is no longer like a privilege, but a right of passage and a business.