The College Admissions Frenzy

As featured in The New York Times

By Jack Mollin

The below letter is in response to “The College Admissions Frenzy,” an op-ed that was published in the New York Times. The letter responds to sentiments reflected by the author of the op-ed, who is both against students having a challenging course load and believes that high-achieving students tend to be turned into robots by the admissions parameters rolled out by colleges. The letter was written in an effort to counteract the assertions made by the New York Times from the unique perspective of a high school student.

To the Editor:

As a high school junior, I was relieved to hear that many major universities have come up with reasonable steps to curb the frenzies that students get themselves into, such as eliminating the drive to have as many outside activities as possible. But I take issue with the position Frank Bruni takes on Advanced Placement classes and his description of students who apply to elite colleges.

Mr. Bruni vilifies the “A.P. everything” culture, but the A.P. classes I’m taking are both interesting and immensely beneficial. Taking advanced courses in both STEM subjects (physics) and the humanities — American history and language and composition — allows me to see what classes I might enjoy in college and what profession I might enjoy.

Mr. Bruni says many students who apply to top colleges are “slavish adherents to soulless scripts that forbid the exploration of genuine passions,” but that could not be farther from the truth for me and many other “exceptional” students. It is possible for me to take three A.P. classes, play sports, do community service, participate on the student council and do everything else that I do while still having my own life.

I still joke around with friends, spend time with my family, and find time to be addicted to iPhone games and crosswords. Painting adolescents as obsessive robots is not a path to meaningful change.

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