You have to start young.
Step one: be lucky enough to have doting parents that see your potential and tell everyone about it until somewhere between all the praise for reading books, a relative you barely know suggests, “That kid can get into Harvard.”
Step two: let your parents run away with the idea while not even knowing where Harvard is on a map and continue reading. Ensure that they keep bringing up the idea of Harvard to anyone that marvels at the absolute wonder of a child reading and liking it. This may be the time that your parents, and others, suggest you becomePresident, too.
Step three: have your parents enroll you in an extracurricular activity that sucks up a lot of time but makes you generally unimpressive to admissions officers.Bonus points if it’s costly, too. Suggestions include mastering a musical instrument or dedicating yourself to a common sport. It’s absolutely crucial that your parents enroll you when young so you spend years getting to such a point in your activity that it’d seem like madness to quit doing it once you’re in high school. The combination of piano and swimming did just the trick for me!
Step four: start taking pre-AP classes in middle school and continue reading for pleasure. Teachers will notice your dedication and recommend you to more time-consuming summer programs and once-a-day events that you won’t even be able to list on your college applications because they only look at what you did in high school. Placed first place tuba in district band UIL? Amazing! Became president of your middle school’s NJHS chapter? Incredible! Anything noteworthy, do it in middle school to consume as much time as possible so you spend as little time thinking about what you actually want to do in the future. Build up stress and make sure you easily get burnt out come high school because it houses the most critical years.
Step five: stay on top of your school work, but never understand the way that GPA is calculated so you have no idea how to get in your school’s top five ranking. The key is to be good but not good enough. This is also when you’ll be offered the chance of getting enrolled into college access programs like EMERGE or LEDA for your straight A’s. Apply to them and get rejected so that you have no real support or guidance to help you understand the admissions process. Even if you do get accepted into a program, don’t fret;I got accepted into QuestBridge but still got rejected!
Step six: Surround yourself with peers that did get accepted into more programs, though, so that you’re always reminded of your inadequacies and wonder what the hell terms like “early decision” and “safety,” “match” and “reach” schools means. It should scarcely be noted that you absolutely must keep wasting time on unimpressive extracurriculars; however, you also have to dedicate yourself to new unimpressive activities (the later on in high school, the better; never join them early). I joined yearbook in sophomore year then quit after junior year. Later, I joined debate and NHS in junior year. If you aren’t exhausted by juggling everything, then take up community service! This is an easy way to spend your time and remain absolutely average to admissions officers.
If you’ve followed all these steps, your high school schedule should look like this: wake up and go to school to pay attention to your AP, DC or IB classes; waste time by staying after school at debate or perhaps NHS; come home and practice the piano for hours; get ready to go to swimming practice and comeback late; on the weekends, waste half of your day volunteering and the other half practicing. Never realize what your true interests are and under no circumstances begin your own club or organization since those Ivy Leagues love to see passion and self-direction.
If you do all this then congrats! When application season comes around in the fall semester of senior year, you’ll be ready to be chucked into the rejection or waitlist pile. What you do with this accomplishment, only you know but remain certain that all of your hard work throughout the years would have led to this moment, and you’ll leave everyone wondering why such a hard working kid that loved to read didn’t get into Yale or Princeton or Brown.
Renato de Leon is a Mexican-American writer and pianist. Based in Houston, Texas, he lives with his parents and two dogs: Sticky and Emmette. His work explores the intimacies of daily life and the ephemeral nature of adolescence with influences from the diverse Houston community and his own Mexican heritage.