Ode to the College Admissions Process

Gabby Barone

O, what tempestuous beast!
You control the lives
of innocent, naive, 17 year olds,
turning them into warriors
of the application battle

You provide endless entertainment
and finding your required information
takes hours upon hours

especially right after
you’ve been slayed
and the email “Thank you for submitting your application”
has sunk into the inbox
when suddenly there’s the
FAFSA / CSS / Midyear Reports / Transcript / Recommendations
to contend with

what would all of these students learn
if it wasn’t for you, college applications?
what would they gain from not having to wait
to be admitted or denied?

what would they do in their spare time as seniors
(which makes the idea of spare time laughable)?
What would all of the application readers / specialists / kings
do for four months with a lack of
hair-pulling, file reading, decision-wielding to handle?

Recently, you’ve begun
to exert your wisdom on newer generations,
expanding the “Get Into College” process
onto even soft, sleepy, acne-ridden freshman
who just want to pass English
and then take a nap

You transfer from paper to electronics
giving a chance for glitches, errors, internet failure, and panic
just to make sure we aren’t bored
and keep our relationship from growing stale

Once your army of
– battle weary, homework-neglected, shell-shocked –
seniors have slogged their way
through the blood and sweat and screams
of 12 applications
(or lucky number 13)
and essays, and taxes, and editing
(like an endless number of soldier’s wives
they’re ready to wait, holding back on
decisions, vacations, the new car, or hope)
as you percolate like coffee made too late
to be effective

Your team is given interviews,
standing at the press podium,
eyes hard, shoulders tensed, jaw rigid, expression fierce,
as they field such questions as
“Where do you want to go to college?”
“Why won’t you become an engineer?”
“Do you know what you want to study?”
“Having seen the miserable failure of ____ in your intended field,
does this make you scared?”
“Why are you majoring in journalism when print is dead?”

without this practice, college applications,
these not-yet-legal, brain-unformed children
would not make the transition from a minefield of
high school and sex jokes and raising your hand to go to the bathroom
to a curious land of
no parents, midterms, and
a lot of things we can’t list here.

You change us, college applications,
and when we finally get tired
of our dull relationship,
and decide to end it,
and pull the plug,
you introduce us to your really attractive cousin,
“Free Scholarships! Apply Now!”
as retribution