Deserving.

A word that seems to be thrown around far too often in the context of college admissions. It is heard with both congratulatory remarks on college acceptances and pitying condolences regarding rejections.

“Congratulations, you deserve it!” Or “I’m so sorry, you totally deserved it.” Worse yet, “you deserve it more than him.”

We brand each other with judgements based on what we see of others: appearance, behavior, extracurricular activities, all to generate some sort of biased mock-up identity about peers. We think we know the credentials of a certain other student applying to the same university, and it is so easy to compare ourselves to each other. But instead of only criticizing others as  peers, we also see them in the eyes of a college admissions officer evaluating their application.

It’s simple self-deprecation. Unproductive and detrimental, this comparative evaluation we subject ourselves to is inherently wrong for so many reasons. But mostly, it stems from the realm of what we think we know.

College admissions are a crapshoot. It’s scientifically proven by the  same statistics that are supposed to provide applicant security. No one will ever know why they were not admitted to that school they statistically should have been, or why they were accepted to one that they were not expecting to.

We are all going to end up somewhere, whether it be at a four year university, a community college, the Peace Corps or bumming on our parents’ couch as we “figure things out” for a while.

Lets drop this idea of deserving. We all came into this world, entitled to nothing but what we make for ourselves. Each student may have his or her own impressive academic record and personal accomplishments, but still nothing entitles someone to a seat at a certain university.

Our focus as media-driven teenagers often tends to point inwards, not only to ourselves, but to the limits of what we think we know. Being educated and successful isn’t about the college you go to or the job you get. It’s about what you do with any single opportunity you are confronted with, and every single opportunity that you seek out for yourself. This world doesn’t owe us anything as young adults —  we will only go as far as we are driven to go.

Palo Alto may seem to us like a stifling bubble right now (especially to us seniors on the brink of escape), but to other parts of the world, it’s paradise. Silicon Valley is an international symbol for innovation and success, but I feel that in the middle of the viral fame, we often forget how success is made. And it is most certainly not made by standing still, waiting to be recognized for what we “deserve.”

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