I’ve been struggling.

Macalester College by Jay Gabler
Macalester College by Jay Gabler

It’s no surprise that my last application to submit has a writing supplement that asks, “What draws you to our school, and what would you contribute to it?”

I promise that the reason why the application hasn’t been turned it yet (yes, I know, I’m way behind all of who sent in all your apps before the new year, but, as the title states, I’ve been STRUGGLING), is because everything I’ve written so far for this supplement doesn’t seem adequate.

A while ago, I wrote a post about why writing supplements that ask, “Why this college?” are the most difficult to compose.

And here I am proving the post right.

The school is Macalester College, one of my absolute favorites. Every time I spend a significant amount of time either reading its viewbook, taking a virtual tour, or going through student reviews on Unigo, it’s an emotional experience. It’s in the trigger phrases–a commitment to multiculturalism, access to caring and knowledgeable professors, connections to internship opportunities–now that I’ve gotten over the initially superficial things that I had originally wanted from my future college, I look for these exact qualities.

And then they have these super cool co-op residence houses! Forget Greek life: There’s one for vegetarians in which meat is banned, many language houses where students live to immerse themselves in their chosen language, and an eco house (the name explains its purpose). It’s small, and it promotes an atmosphere of constant intellectualism. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, graduated from Mac.

Somehow, I’ll have to pull from the substance behind these things; for example, from the co-op residences houses, I can say that I respect Mac’s belief in learning that works on application and assimilation, learning that truly follows a student from the campus to the world.

I think I’m getting the hang of this.

Except for the “why YOU?” part of the question.
Why I am worthy to walk the path that Kofi Annan walked?
I don’t know.

I could say that I am international and special and smart.


I’m struggling.


Joelle is boring and annoying.

What normal teenage girl quotes Zora Neale Hurston and NPR news reports on the regular? And tries for stupid scholarships like the one to FFVF? Does she think she’s better than us?

I swear, every time the teacher asks a question, she answers it. I mean, I get that it’s quiet, and the few other people who had the courage to answer have spoken, but does she always have to voice her own opinion? That’s why you see me roll my eyes when she raises her hand.

Have you noticed how she nods her head when she agrees with something the religion teacher or chapel speaker says? As if she’s in a black church…at least she doesn’t shout amen all the time.

She acts so white; she’s not even funny like black girls are on tv.

Why does she talk so much about race issues? Prejudice isn’t even problem any more.

And allll she ever talks about is college applications; I swear I’ve never seen anyone work harder to get away from this town. I wonder why…

7 Mysteries Demystified For The College Bound

Thought Catalog

Congrats! You’ve graduated from high school and are heading off to college in a few short (the shortest of your life) weeks! I really do envy you. One of the greatest moments of my life was finding that I belonged in college, and each year when the leaves start changing color I feel nostalgia for my Urbana afternoons.

Perhaps you’ve gotten into your dream school. That’s fantastic. But if you’re like I was, you’ll end up at a safety school. You might feel that a dream has been shattered or that you’ve let yourself down. Feel this if you must, but know that you’re being unfair. If you’re planning on graduating from college, this is just the beginning, and you don’t really know much about college yet. Even if your parents or siblings are college graduates, there’s little they can predict about how much you’ll change in only the first…

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Why I won’t pierce my ears in college.

When I was in 4th grade, I wanted huge hoop earrings.

When I was in 9th grade, I wanted pearl studs.

Right now, I want cute diamond studs and fashionable dangly earrings; however, my parents are not inclined to giving me the permission to pierce my ears. Even when one of my older sisters got her own ears pierced in her mid-twenties, I sure did not see my mom ignore the fact and refrain from voicing her disapproval.

Right now, my mother’s not sure about the places I am pinning my hopes on,  particularly about the fact that the majority of the schools I have applied to have been non-Adventist schools set in urban locations at least 400 miles away from home. She, rightly so, fears that leaving the security of my town with a lot more freedom than a seventeen-year-old girl can handle all at once will cause me to misuse that freedom, irresponsibly making choices counter to the morals she instilled in me.

I had always planned on piercing my ears once I turned 18, while in college, with no one to stop me from doing so. However, considering how wary my mom is of the campus environments of many of the school I applied to, I have decided against that plan. I need to embark on my college adventure with the awareness that my mother’s trust in me remains precarious;  I cannot afford to plant doubt in her.

Refraining from piercing my ears sounds like a trivial matter,

Witness my photo editing skills.
Witness my photo editing skills.

but I hold in high esteem my relationship with my mother, enough to sacrifice the fashion statement that I have always wished to make.

My reaction to my ACT scores (for once)

When I saw my ACT scores (for once)

At precisely 1:26 am, I logged on to actstudent.org to discover my final fate as a high school student. MY LAST HIGH SCHOOL STANDARDIZED TEST PRAISE THE LORD!
The scores are as follows:
English: 34
Math: 24
Reading: 35
Science: 25
That’s a composite score of 30.

Sooo unbelievably unexpected. First, I did not expect my reading score to increase (the last was a 31, a score I was happily content with). Second–the most astounding aspect of my scores–how did I get a higher score in reading than in English? And how did I get a higher score in science than I did in math? And there’s a strange 10 point difference between my reading score and science score, while there is precisely a one point difference between reading-english and science-math.
This must mean something.

From outside the fog of my past college daydreams


(University of Chicago, July 2013)

If you know me, you’ll know I’ve had college daydreams since forevva, mostly elicited by a combination of  my memories of life at Michigan State University and life as seen on television (20% – 50% – 30% other influences). Fantasies of walking in through ivy-covered gates, debating the meaning of life on the university lawn with other wanna-be intellectuals, and walking hand-in-hand on said lawn with a super attractive hipster frequently danced in my head; I envisioned myself going on late night coffee shop runs with my roommate (aka soul sister) to put in hours of enthusiastic study sessions.

Flash forward to the year 2013:

I had no idea that writing applications could significantly alter my view of what college life really entails.

I’ll be sweating.

Typing in all the activities that I have participated in over the course of my high school career, sending in my standardized test scores,  and weighing my applications with freshman profiles of colleges nationwide forced me to realize the fact that I’m not all that special. I won’t maintain the title of being the girl who always has the keenest answers. Expectations made my professors will far exceed those established by my high school teachers; I will be among many like me, so to stand out, I’ll have to exert twice, three times, as much effort as ever before.


Calculating the actual cost of college–including housing and meal fees, subtracting merit and need-based scholarships–has also been as a splash of ice water on my heart. To be able to manage costs, I’ll definitely need to participate in work-study programs. As a result, I cannot imagine that I will have tons of free time to frolic in on the campus lawn. Things get serious when you have to plan for $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 debts.

The weather(?).

Considering the fact that only about 30% of the schools that I applied to are below the Mason-Dixon line, I had better be factoring the implications of most likely going to school up north. The fact that many of the major snow storms east of the Mississippi River occurred around the schools I applied to doesn’t help to calm my fears of miserable flu seasons and a constant struggle to keep warm from November to March.

Dating and the social scene.

The very aspect of college life that enticed me the most has now arisen so much uncertainty within me. Will any of the guys on campus share my core values? Will I be able to resist the temptations offered up at parties? Will I even have a social life – especially with my finances? (Assuming that I’ll make it out of Collegedale) how will my classmates react to my peculiar beliefs as an Adventist? I’m starting to realize the additional challenge, not reprieve, that will come with the college social scene.

But the comfort I have received after this understanding lies in the simple truth that my education is for the purpose of fulfilling my career aspirations. My education will be the passage through which I come to my ultimate purpose of helping to promote a socially just world.