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Mission: Sanity

I have to remind myself that all of this will be worth it -- maybe not right now, but in late March or April, when I receive acceptance letters from some of the colleges I'm applying to.
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This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.

College: a word that fills me with both dread and anticipation.

College applications: two words that fill me with only dread.

Sometimes when I look at the Common Application, I want to scream. These colleges want so much from me: a personal statement, supplement essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, test scores, transcripts, application fees and pretty much every single fact about me and my life. Heck, I'm a little surprised they don't ask for my blood type. And this is just the college application; it doesn't even include financial aid and scholarship applications, which both require more essays, more documentation, more recommendations and even more information about me.

Suddenly, my goal of maintaining my sanity during senior year seems a lot more difficult, especially considering the fact that I'm taking four AP classes this year, including AP Calculus (possibly the most frustrating, incomprehensible class ever) and AP English Literature and Composition, which (surprise, surprise) requires me to write an essay every week.

Essay: a word that I loathe, loathe, LOATHE.

When I look at the smiling people in the Columbia University admission brochure I got in the mail, I want to ask them, "How--how--did you survive this process to even make it into school?" I then have to stop myself from begging the two-dimensional pictures, "Please help me. I need it. You don't know how much I need it."

But in all honesty, my senior year has gotten better as it has taken off the ground. After a week, derivatives started to make some sort of sense. After a few weeks, I got used to receiving a new essay assignment every Monday. And after a month, having completed a rough draft of my personal statement, I don't think the college application process seems that overwhelming.
This is not to say I have come to like any of it, however. Derivatives and essays will never be my friends; they will forever remain enemies I learn to tolerate and coexist with.

Still, I have to remind myself that all of this will be worth it -- maybe not right now, but in late March or April, when I receive acceptance letters from some (or all, the optimistic side of me thinks) of the colleges I'm applying to: Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University (my dream school), Kenyon College, Manhattanville College, New York University, Oberlin College, University of Chicago, Washington & Jefferson College, and Yale University. And if I'm really lucky and/or supply myself with a bunch of four-leaf clovers, late March or April will also be the time when I receive financial aid from some of these schools, along with other scholarship opportunities.

I can hope, can't I?

"Argh!" I say when I read one of University of Chicago's supplement essay prompts: "Tell us about the relationship between you and your arch-nemesis (either real or imagined)." "Argh!" I say again when I see the number of words I have written so far: zero.

"It will all be worth it," I remind myself, closing my eyes and imagining myself as one of those happy, smiling, frighteningly perfect people in the college brochures.

"It will," I tell (promise) myself, reluctantly opening my eyes and starting to type. I smile when I look at the new word count: two.

Hey, every journey begins with a single step, right?

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