Get Into a Top Notch College: What, Like It's Hard?

Eric Frankel ’23 in Features | January 13, 2023

The key to getting into college is simple: You just have to be the best at everything. 
What? You dare scoff at me, child? It’s not the easiest task! If you want all of your classmates to enviously seethe at you once your Instagram bio updates to “Lville ’23 || Harvard ’27,” then you must make sacrifices. Follow this 10-step guide to achieving the elitist dreams every one of your classmates is praying for.
  1. Cut off your friends. They’re dead weight; you can’t solve world hunger when you have friends. Some of the best people alive today don’t have friends, and look at how amazing they are: Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos. These people are amazing, and they did it because they did it solo. 
  2. After you’ve detached yourself from such aforementioned silly, mortal possessions, the next step is to constantly bring up your superior intellectual and moral standing in everyday conversation. In Harkness conversations, strike to kill. When your opponents (classmates) speak, be ready to spring and interrupt as soon as they have to inhale. How will you know if you’re successful if other people can’t begrudgingly admit you are? If someone gets accepted into Stanford alone in the woods, did it really happen? 
  3. Some soft, idiotic, yuppie might tell you that you should work as hard as you can and aim for your best, not a letter grade. These people are liars attempting to ruin your greatness. True future hedge-bank managers must game the system. Learn your teachers’ birthdays, and their dogs’ birthdays, and bring them gifts accordingly. Ask anyone and everyone whether a teacher in your schedule gives out A+s, and don’t stop harassing Mr. Fernandez until you’ve become a guaranteed 4.2 GPA student. 
  4. But what is a valedictorian without some relatability? A social pariah. So it’s pertinent that you learn the groveling, grumbling language of the commoners. Make sure to use common refrains such as “I just did SOOO bad on this test!” No matter whether you received an A+ or an A- (you scum!), you must give off the perception that you have weaknesses, just so that the mob doesn’t get to you.
  5. Find the cure for cancer. What, like it’s hard?
  6. Write your personal statement about the most tragic, sad, terrible, traumatic thing that will bring an underpaid, overworked 20-something admissions reader to never-ending tears. I had a kidney stone once, and I wrote my personal statement about it. A pity acceptance is still an acceptance!
  7. Starting when you’re in fifth grade, create a fake billing company and begin siphoning money away from your parents' bank account. This will culminate in an eventual donation to the school of your dreams. If you actually wish to get any sort of preferential treatment, make sure this amount is over $1,000,000.
  8. On the other hand, you could just come from generational legacy, or have your parents donate a building. These strategies are so passé, though.
  9. Lie. Truth is irrelevant, alternative facts are the way to go. Maybe you did save an orphan’s life while you were discovering poverty in the Global South…who’s to say? Princeton wasn’t there watching you. Maybe you are feeling a little ~LGBTQ~ today on the Common App. Add a ‘they’ to the second part of your pronouns and a ‘bisexual’ to your 75 characters on identity, whether or not you care about queer rights. Think of how Yale will jump at your amazing and vast identity.
  10. Kill someone. By committing a felony—and a spicy one at that—you get to check “yes” on another box in the Common App. That’s really all college is about: Checking boxes.

I’ve been a bit dramatic at times, but let me speak truthfully. The college admissions process is a grueling, saddening, and confusing labyrinth; but it’s also where you get to make big decisions about what you want in life, and is a great opportunity to take stock of where you are. Underformers, you are all prepared for this maze. The one thing you cannot give into, though, are airless ideas of what a ‘good school’ is, and correlating anyone’s intrinsic value to the institution they enroll in, including yourself. No matter how many times you may hear  and not believe it, sometimes the best experiences come out of not getting what you originally wanted. I know you might not believe me, and sometimes, I don’t either. But hey—there are so many more valuable things in life than what logo will adorn your degree. 
Hopefully, you’re doing things right now that you care about. That might be getting eight hours of sleep and not procrastinating, hosting club events, or maybe just seeing friends. The arc of your life isn’t all leading up to what university you end up paying an insane amount of money to. It’s about building good habits, making life-long connections, and trying your best. As someone in recovery from terribly elitist beliefs about college, I find it easy to think I’ve squandered Lawrenceville if I don’t end up at a certain type of school. But if that’s not the truth, then my time here has only left me with a wealth of relationships, wisdom, and community. That means so much more than any acceptance ever could.