The whole college shenanigans

Every year, millions of young adults all over the world make the leap from high school to college. Some of them make a small leap within their country, a safe leap that poses no danger at all. Others make a leap of faith and decide to apply to world renowned universities, mostly in the United States. A leap into the unknown.

I am one of the Others. I really want to go to college in the U.S., for obvious reasons. Just visit any of the Ivy League websites, or any of the liberal arts college ones and you’ll want to go there too. It just seems so perfect, choosing what subjects you want to study, small classes, a plethora of state of the art facilities, and access to infinite knowledge, and fun.

And yet what really affects me about this whole “perfect college” idea is that I don’t know if I’m “perfect college” material. I’ve never seen myself as excessively smart or “gifted” in any way. Sure, I’ve taken part in many, many activities in school and dabbled in all sorts of things, but when is it enough for the likes of Harvard and Stanford? When will I have done enough for them to say, “That’s enough, boy, you may enter through our shiny gates soaked in worldly knowledge and ambition, you are one of us now.” I don’t know.

On top of that, hundreds of thousands of students apply to these colleges every year. And with that comes comparing: am I as good as him? Have I done as much as him? Are my grades as good as his? I recently listened to this NPR video that highlights the admissions process at Amherst College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the US:

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=134916924&m=134916916

Somehow, the whole process just seems so…unfair. It’s like America and Germany flipping a coin to see who attacks first on D-Day. I’m at a disadvantage, because Indian schools are in no way comparable to American schools because our ideologies are different. Therefore, the infrastructure in Indian schools is severely limited. So I was never part of the National Math Honor Society or the Moslem Club (the things they do…)!

So how can I become a piece of gold amongst the heap of minerals in the ground? Through my essays I guess. Or, in my gap year, do things that are so radical (not in a violent way) that when those admissions guys see it, their socks will be rocked off (it’s an American expression). But really, I don’t know how.

US colleges are also cruel institutions. They preach ideals like world class education for everyone, and then place obstacles in front of prospective students in the form of expensive tuition (every top college charges upwards of $40,000. Yeah, even in these hard economic times) because to them, education is a business, not a right. Sure, they give “aid” but why put high sticker prices in the first place?

The world of education has to change. People need to realize that governments should give quality education for free. Right now, it’s quite obvious that one would go to private institutions because of what they offer, but education is the right of every living being.

Right now, there is a paradigm shift occurring in cyberspace with services like Coursera and Khan Academy providing free education online, just for the purpose of learning things. Even top universities like Stanford and UPenn have started offering these college courses, introductory ones, that are simple to sign up and are quite immersive if you want it to be. Try them out.

But for now, these ideas are from a 17 year old who hasn’t been to college yet.

P.S. Maybe if I was an underprivileged kid I would have a much better chance at getting into Harvard. Just saying.

P.P.S. I’m mentioning this blog in my resume. I wonder if they’ll read this article.

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