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I recently found a copy of my University of California application. On it I had checked off which campuses I was applying to in order of preference. The singular essay was hand written complete with curlicues and eraser marks. It was simple- an account of what I was involved in at my high school. To prepare for the application, I took the SAT one time with no prep course or practice. The fall of my senior year was spent enjoying high school, developing my areas of interest (ballet and boys), and growing up. Yes- it was quite a while ago, but can we honestly look at the admissions process today and say we have progressed.

I understand that there is more competition for relatively fewer seats. Does that necessitate families paying hundreds of dollars on application fees as they are told to apply broadly to colleges or that students spend months filling in information, writing multiple essays, and figuring out requirements for a variety of applications? According to NACAC, a quarter of the freshmen who enrolled in college in fall 2010 applied to seven or more schools. Many of these colleges require multiple essays and that students write with a level of self-awareness that is often beyond their developmental stage. I don’t have all the answers, but whenever we have the opportunity we need to simplify the process and let students experience high school without the pressure of college applications constantly looming overhead.

By Shan Shumacher