Graduation is a mere 3 weeks away and I’ve been applying, applying, applying with hopes of securing something definite for post-graduation. The process has felt like a déjà vu of life four and a half years ago when I was poring over college applications. Here are some of the reasons why:
Reason 1: The prep
In high school, it was all about the SAT and ACT—getting those scores to whatever your dream college wanted was the root of immeasurable stress for 16 and 17 year olds. Many of us had tutors, went to prep sessions, and bought out Barnes and Noble’s stock of Kaplan and Princeton Review SAT/ACT prep books. After all, the golden rule was: “practice, practice, practice!” When test day came, you endured the four tedious hours and exited the room feeling like a Walking Dead zombie.
Fast-forward to the present. Now, 21 and 22 year olds are stressed about having an impeccable resume and an eye-catching cover letter (at least in the J-school). Instead of putting a number on your intelligence, like the SAT does, you have the opportunity to show how and why you’re a good fit for the job. Instead of seeing an SAT or ACT tutor, you’re visiting career services or asking fifty different people to read and comment on your resume/cover letter. It’s just as stressful. Oh, and don’t forget that you could also be studying for the GMAT just in case grad school is in your crystal ball.
Reason 2: The mentoring
By the end of junior year of high school, many kids are drafting college essays and well into standardized test prep. By senior year, those tests may be done, but the all-consuming college essays still remain. I remember writing mine at least five times over and then having it edited by another ten people in order to produce something that I thought would get me into Carolina. Be it a college counselor, a parent, a teacher, a tutor, a hairdresser—someone acted as a mentor in the college application process.
And now, four years later, we’re making mock interview appointments, having our resumes and cover letters reviewed by anyone that can spare a minute, writing emails to alumni, the list goes on. There’s someone mentoring, someone helping you along the way.
Reason 3: The rejection (or fear of it)
Finally, you’ve produced test scores and essays that you’re proud of, woohoo. It’s time to hit that submit button and let the admissions minions do the deciding. After the relief of sending off your applications comes the fear—what if I’m rejected from everywhere? What if there was a glitch or something and it didn’t go through? What if they don’t like oxford commas and I used one??
Submitting job applications has the same sense of relief. Once you’ve finally written a great cover letter and created an awesome resume, there’s that happiness, but then the concern creeps in. What if I just don’t have that ‘something’? What if I overlooked a typo? What if I didn’t write the right company name on the cover letter?
College and job applications have one more thing in common: They seem like the key to your future, but also have all the power to
ruin alter what you envisioned as your future.