Teen Talk: In wake of scandals, college worth comes from within

Like many ambitious high school students, I’ve always dreamed of attending an Ivy League college. To many teens, the exclusive group of schools seems to guarantee a successful future. But how far would someone go to get in?

Many teenagers have heard about the recent college admission scandal. People were so desperate to get themselves or their children into high-ranking universities that they shelled out thousands, or even millions, of dollars. Along with bribing admission officers, students faked disabilities, hired others to take their SAT or ACT, created phony charities, or pretended to be an athlete to make the cut. This begs the question that countless motivated teenagers fail to consider: Is it the college we attend which determines our success, or is it ourselves?

How much success will an Ivy League college guarantee? No doubt the social status could help us later in life, perhaps in obtaining a prosperous job. But for us teens, it is our own ambition and ability to overcome obstacles that relates to how successful we are, not what college we go to.

As a teen, I find myself questioning our world. What is wrong with our society? What causes teenagers to believe that they need to attend the best college?

I speak with past experience; since I was 9, it has been my dream to attend Harvard. However, I personally think of the admission process as a game of chance. Less than 20 percent of Americans think the college admission process is fair, and more than 3 in 5 citizens believe college acceptance “favors the rich and powerful.”

The Ivy League colleges are exclusive. Most schools accept only a small percentage of all applicants (usually under 10 percent). And we teens have no idea what the formula is to get in!

Yes, we know that you need good SAT scores, a fair share of extracurricular activities, and all-around good grades. But countless students have all these factors, and many more, and are still rejected.

The admission process is subjective. There isn’t a formula. There is no magic wand that guarantees you get in.

I, along with many other teens, can find these facts disheartening. The college you attend can seem like a factor that will make or break your entire life. We teens need to have confidence in ourselves. In the end, it will be our determination that will drive us to greatness, not necessarily our formal education.

A famous Hollywood actress bribed college admission officers to get her daughter into a prestigious school. The daughter recalls the advice her parents gave her before she left for college: “Be classy, you only get one reputation.” Isn’t it ironic?

I still dream of attending an Ivy League college (Harvard, are you listening?). But the college admission scandal has gone too far. Education is meant to help you learn, but lying to get into the college of your dreams will only lessen your integrity. We should know when to draw the line.

Maria Proulx of Ledyard is a freshman at St. Bernard School in Montville.

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