Guest Columnist Maddie Raymond: Students All Need a Better Support System

Posted: 11/18/2021 14:01:59 PM College application season makes my mom cry. At night, I hear her sob, saying that she wants to do w...

Posted: 11/18/2021 14:01:59 PM

College application season makes my mom cry. At night, I hear her sob, saying that she wants to do well with us but it’s so hard. Every morning our dining room fills up with crumpled papers and half-finished forms on the table. Our whole family is stretched like a rubber band, ready to snap at any time. We are all holding our breath, waiting for the day when all the forms are filled out and the applications sent and we can move on with our lives. But as we set here in this purgatory, I can’t help but wonder why it has to be so.

Last year I had no idea what was to come. I was a high school student going through the worst of a global pandemic, living a life of endless Zoom meetings and occasional trips to the grocery store. To put it bluntly, a lot of nothing. But if last year was nothing, this year is everything. Between a part-time job, three AP classes, a class at Smith College, and more extra-curricular activities than I can comprehend, I don’t have time to breathe. And I do all of this for the chance to stand out from the crowd in the college admissions process.

When did it get like this? In the 90s, when the Common Online Application was first launched, it aimed to streamline the process (admissionado). But that’s clearly not the case, as students are stressed more than ever by additional writing, tax returns, and sometimes even video submissions. Ask anyone in my senior year class, and they’ll likely list all of the attributes and after-school programs that they think colleges will like the most. Even I do it. I’ve been picking activities by hand since I was twelve.

Like everything else in our complicated industrial capitalist society, BIPOC students (blacks, natives, people of color) are most affected by this entangled process. BIPOC students already face the daily struggles stemming from systemic racism, and wealth inequality only confuses this problem, as many BIPOC students do not have as many resources to pursue college, financial and others.

What we all need as students is a better support system. If this application process hurts me and I’m a privileged white girl, what does it do to students at intersections of oppression? We need to simplify financial aid applications, or even eliminate tuition fees for public colleges altogether, although that is a whole different box of worms. As in any other release process, if we make the college application system easier for poor, disabled and BIPOC students, we will make it easier for everyone. We need to come together as a community to make sure all students have people to guide them through this process so they don’t have to depend on overworked guidance counselors. We need a roadmap for caregivers to guide them through this process so that they don’t feel left in the dark as they plan what may define the rest of their children’s lives. Most importantly, we need to give these students space to breathe. Space to make their own decisions about what kind of adults they want to be, and space to catch up with them when they stumble along the way. Even though the rest of our lives suddenly fall on us, we are still children.

To be honest, it’s a bit nerve-racking to go after college admissions process like this while I’m still in the thick of it. Part of me is wondering if any of the colleges I’m applying to will see this and wondering if I’m the right fit after what I’ve said. But it’s a risk I’m willing to take if it means bringing in people from the community at large to reassess the system they’ve created. Colleges were founded so that people who wanted to learn could have a space to do it, and I think that’s something we all have to keep in mind.

So, I wonder if the college application season can be drastically reinvented. If there can be a world where applying to college is only a joyous thing, and we as students can be celebrated for wanting to pursue further education instead of running to stand out from the crowd. Where we can be cared for, no matter which route we decide to take once the process is said and done, and no one cries at night wondering if they are behaving well with the child they raised .

Maddie Raymond, who lives in the hills, writes a monthly column.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Guest Columnist Maddie Raymond: Students All Need a Better Support System
Guest Columnist Maddie Raymond: Students All Need a Better Support System
Newsrust - US Top News
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