Becoming a College Student After Being a High School Slacker

Deadlines have grown a lot more serious lately. Throughout most of high school and middle school, things were far more simple. Avoiding any penalty for turning in a homework assignment or an essay a week overdue could be accomplished by several minutes of skillful talking and a little false sincerity, and I don’t think that I’ve ever handed in a permission slip that wasn’t at least 2 days late. A deadline just never seemed important, I treated them like ballpark guesses about around when I might finish up an assignment. Now, however, as I’m at the end of my high school career, missing a due date carries somewhat more serious repercussions.

Colleges are slightly less obliging when it comes to accepting overdue papers; an application that is turned in late can seriously hinder the applicants chances of acceptance, and a late scholarship application will virtually guarantee that the scholarship will be denied. In the last six months of school, many high school seniors begin to shun school work and instead stress over their futures beyond senior year. Suddenly, that scholarship becomes far more important than that essay on “What I did over winter break”, and that Science homework takes second place to that college application. Before even filling out a college application, and sending in the application fee, there is an even more stressful task; deciding where to go. Starting at about the time SAT scores are released, most students start receiving information from every college from here to Djibouti, (pronounced ji-boo-ty, a small country in east Africa, and if there’s a funnier name, I haven’t heard it) and it makes the decision of which college to attend pretty difficult for most people. This assault on innocent mailboxes around the country continues until, well, actually it hasn’t ended yet, and I’ve already arrived at my college.

I have a theory that I will be receiving mail from colleges until I’m about thirty. Some of these places seem a bit desperate. College letters run the gamut from the generous (“We will pay for half your education “) to the shamelessly imposing (“If you care about your future, you will attend our college”). Sometimes it seems the only thing that they haven’t done is send me a threatening letter with a picture of my family tied to a chair, though I am not ruling out the possibility of that occurring between now and the time I reach the age of thirty. The only people who employ more persistent tactics than these colleges seems to be the military, but that’s a story for another day

Personally, my first choice for a college was the Hawaii Pacific University. One day I got a thick college envelope that said “Aloha Patrick” on the front. Before I had even opened the envelope, I knew where I would be going to college. A two word salutation was not exactly a selling point to my parents though, and it took many carefully crafted arguments and promises of fresh pineapple to do the job. A four year tropical vacation (where I will also attend classes, as my parents have forcibly reminded me on many occasions) was plenty motivation for me to get in gear and fill out that application. The alternative was to stay close to home in New York and somehow manage to endure another savage northern winter. A bit of snow in December can be charming, yes, but when it’s still coming down in April, that’s another story. Time does have a tendency to fly by, and there was a stretch of a couple months where it seemed that the paperwork for college would never end.

After being accepted into college and receiving (or not receiving) the scholarships for which I applied and was eligible, it seemed like I could finally take a break. If the people out in the Hawaii Pacific University office of admissions heard this, I’m sure that they’d all have a good laugh. Now there are housing deposits and payments, class registration, meal plans, transportation arrangements, and a veritable flood of other tasks to complete. Every day, it seems, the college sends more mail (sometimes I think that half the cost of tuition must be to pay for the postage on these things) which means more papers for me to fill out, and another check to put in the mail. I haven’t had to fill out this much paperwork since that incident with Homeland Security. Lately, it seems like I don’t even have enough time to do simple tasks, like sleeping, although seeing as how I’m a college student that doesn’t exactly put me in the minority.

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