For the typical high school senior, receiving college acceptances and rejections is a nerve wracking and sometimes even dreadful time. But what may be even worse than the disappointment of being rejected, is the fear of judgement from others: parents, friends, and peers alike. While one should be proud of getting into their dream school, or any school that they attend, they should do it for themselves and nobody else. The constant air of judgement surrounding college admissions can make the entire process even scarier.
Often, students place all of their self-worth on a particular school, or a particular range of schools, and if they don’t get in, it causes them to question their value as a human being.
Sometimes, it’s not even that the student is upset about being rejected from a particular school, but rather that they fear the judgment that they know will arise when they tell people where they are going to college. Parents, friends, classmates, and others are almost guaranteed to make a snap judgement about their worth as a human being. Students at Monte Vista have even been known to lie about being accepted to prestigious schools, such as Ivy Leagues.
“I know for a fact it does happen.” guidance counselor Janelle Mincy said, when asked about students lying about being accepted to Ivy League schools. ”I’ve overheard it in conversations with friends.”
With all of the pressure students feel to get into a “good” college, it begs the question: what makes a “good” college? Mincy believes that this definition is upheld by the beliefs and perceptions of the family and of the student themselves.
“Any college that exists is a good college,” Mincy said.”It doesn’t necessarily mean the title of it makes it good. But yes, there’s a lot of rumor mill and people who have certain standards…it’s up to the family, [and] it’s up to their (the student’s) own individual beliefs too. So it just depends on how they perceive college and really what they know about college. A lot of people just judge it based on the name versus what is actually going on on the campus.”
The fact that students are being told what is a “good college” may make it difficult for them to find out what they truly want for themselves. With all of the noise surrounding college admissions, a student hardly has the time to realize what it is that makes them happy.
“We have families here that are just ok with wherever a student goes or chooses to do, and then we have families that have…different levels of standards,” Mincy said. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there that leads to more anxiety and more pressure. I just wish families would investigate and do their own research to find out what’s right for their own individual child, or themselves, if it’s the child doing the research, and not get stuck in the materialism behind college.”
While many people seem to be fixated on attending a prestigious four year college, others choose to attend community for two years and then transfer to a four year college to finish their degree. This option allows students to save money, and often allows them to transfer to the college of their dreams. Senior Elizabeth Haigh has chosen to attend DVC after high school.
“I think one of the major things that made me choose to go to DVC over a four year college was probably the fact that I’m not sure what major I want to pursue and DVC would give me the
time and options to figure that out,” Haigh said. “It was a very hard decision to make because I didn’t know anyone else who planned on going to DVC and I felt like an outsider almost just because I wasn’t doing the traditional four year route.”
While DVC offers a great plan for students who don’t want to jump into a four year college right after high school, it is so often stigmatized in our community, and looked down upon by those who believe that DVC students are subpar to students who attend a “good” college.
“I have definitely felt judged when I’ve told people about my decision to go to community college,” Haigh said. “I think it’s because of the stigma around DVC and that it’s only meant for the kids who don’t have the grades or the test scores to get into a four year, which isn’t true at all.”
So why does this stigma continue to persist,even though so many students choose to go to DVC and take the time to figure out what it is that they want to do, rather than being forced to choose a major that they may not be completely sure about?
“I think the stigma is because of how competitive Monte Vista is,” Haigh said. “It’s almost as if people think that if you get into a top school then you’re valued more as an individual. People want to show off what colleges they get into and they’re obviously going to want to brag about going to Berkeley over DVC. I think the stigma around DVC shows that our community is very involved with their image and appearance. People essentially want to flaunt getting into the best schools and it’s just built up this whole entire competitive environment around college.”
Senior Chantal Gill has taken classes at DVC outside of school for about two years, and doesn’t understand why a stigma surrounding DVC still persists. As she met different kinds of students at DVC, she knew that they were not so different from other, four year college bound, students.
“I took my first class at DVC when I was sixteen and I remember not understanding exactly why people look down upon someone when they heard they were going to DVC,” Gill said. “The people who I have taken classes with have been extremely hardworking and really care about their education. Everyone has some kind of idea of where they want to go next; DVC is like a stepping stone for them. My mom graduated from DVC last May and lots of the graduates there were transferring to UCs and decorated their caps with their future school. Going to a four year college after high school just isn’t as accessible to everyone as it’s perceived.”