The College Application Process by Angelica LaMarca

To put it frankly, the process of applying to college is an absolutely potent pain in the ass. It can be quite awkward having write about yourself for pages, and often, one is forced to adapt a clunky, awkward syntax in order to accommodate a strict, diminutive word count. Furthermore, if you are like me and you are prone to procrastination and a fully-flexed lack of motivation, you may find yourself on the day of the application deadline sleep-deprived and hyperventilating, scrambling to varnish essays which you in fact had months to work on.

Since I am applying mostly to UC’s, I spent the bulk of my application process generating my UC personal statements. The UC website provides eight prompts from which one must choose only four to respond to. Being forced to self-advertise extensively, I found that one must straddle a fine line between being too flaccid and being too arrogant. This was probably the most challenging part.

UC prompt #2 pertained to creativity, inquiring of the applicant, “ How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?” Being an art school student, I had the most fun responding to this one. Because I feel that what I wrote was particularly authentic to my identity, here is the personal statement I wrote articulating my passion for writing.

“Writing is my greatest pursuit because there has always been a part of me who fears a wasted or forgotten thought. As someone with a poor memory, writing is a way to preserve my most unflexed fragments of ideas which I can later develop into fully thrumming pieces of art. Without the process of archive, I am simply a sanctum for a current of perpetually flowing ideas that are immediately forgotten and never fulfill a purpose.

For high school, I attended Ruth Asawa School Of The Arts, an art school located in San Francisco where I specialized in Creative Writing. In order to qualify for a place, applicants had to submit a portfolio which included three short stories, ten poems, and one play. The day I received my acceptance letter, my mother treated me to a fancy dinner to deliver the news, but I had already read the email, so I faked surprise over a bowl of hot soup.

I don’t know what I would’ve done without SOTA. Art school offered me an environment in which to groom my abilities; within my four years, I’ve earned multiple awards in poetry competitions such as the SFUSD Literary Art Festival, where, in sophomore year, I won first place. But most importantly, this artistic space is what nurtured my ability to handle criticism. In my writing class, we must participate in peer-editing workshops, and routinely putting myself in that state of vulnerability is what ultimately chiseled out my confidence. I have learned that artwork is separate from the artist; if one insists on viewing their artwork as an extension of themselves, constructive criticism becomes personal insult, and one will never improve.

My fiction pieces tend to lack plot, but I feel this more accurately reflects real life, which does not always channel the hyperbolic, frenzied momentum often depicted in literature. In the stories I write, I hold absolute control over what happens. I have learned to instill a similar control in my own life, treating my world as something malleable to be influenced rather than a body that has inflexible power over me.”

Angelica LaMarca, class of 2018

Life is A Box of Chocolates by Noa Mendoza

In the famous words of Forrest Gump, “life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get…” And I got into college! So that’s crazy. I’m sure many of you are awaiting acceptance yourself—to SOTA or summer writing programs or publications. And what I, as someone who has gotten lucky enough to get a great piece of chocolate (like the gooey, caramel dark chocolate kind) have learned is, to be honest, waiting is the worst part. The build up,the anxiety, the sleepless night before is the worst- but once that acceptance (or maybe rejection) letter comes, you know that it’s what was meant to happen. It’s amazing to know the hard work you put in before hand (whether that’s taking the SAT or painstakingly making an umlaut zone) is validated. So to all you waiting acceptance out there—I’m sorry it’s so stressful but it will ultimately be worth it! Que sera sera and all that.

Noa Mendoza, class of 2016

Declarative Statements About the Future

by Hazel (’13)

It seems that kids are supposed to know what they want to do with their lives at younger and younger ages. Anyone who is in school right now (and possibly others, though I can’t speak for them) will probably know what I’m talking about. The thing is, it’s so accepted that it’s not one of those things people complain about as they congregate around their lockers between classes; it’s just an accepted source of stress.

Considering the specialized nature of SOTA, there actually are a lot of people who have a pretty solid sense of what they want to do in college, if not for the rest of their lives. It’s admirable, it’s impressive, and I wish those people the best of luck in pursuing what they love. And yet, the proportion of people who seem confident in their plans for the future strikes me as implausible. Can all these people really know themselves that well? The very thought of it baffles me.

Like many people in high school, I usually try to blend in, and when I see someone else doing something I like, I try to do it too. So, because I perceive other people my age as having concrete goals that are relevant to the rest of their lives, well, I want them too. So I’ve started making these big, declarative statements.

“I’m going to get a low-paying job to support myself while I write books!”

“I just want to own a bakery!”

“I’m going to go to trade school and become a mechanic!”

All of these things sound nice. But goodness gracious, I am only seventeen years old and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I say things like this because everyone else seems so confident and that scares me. But I have to be honest with myself and with everyone else. So here’s the new statement:

I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I know what interests me. I’m going to go to college, try out lots of things, and eventually find that one thing I could do for the rest of my life. As much pressure as there is to decide right now what my future career will be, I refuse to choose, because I would only be lying to everyone present.

This is why, after months of consideration, I am planning on going to college next year. I always assumed I would, but after talking to classmates with different plans or at least concerns, I became less sure. No one system will fit every person’s needs. But one thing I know is that I love learning, and while there’s a lot I can learn wherever I end up, there are things that I probably could not teach myself, so I’m going to go find some folks who can. And one day, it will all come together and I’ll know what I want to do. But there’s no good reason to rush.

Planning For Next Year

by Hazel (’13)

Recently, Heather set aside a day for the CDubs to help plan out next year’s curriculum. The beginning of this year, while certainly interesting and multi-disciplinary, was not the ultra-productive first two months that usually fuels our fall show, and so a little reorganizing was in order for fall, 2013. The seniors gathered in a corner of the room, and soon we had filled a page with names, notes, and ideas concerning what makes us productive. Throughout this process, I had to keep reminding myself that we were planning not for ourselves, but for the grades below us and the future freshmen we would never know.

I’ve heard many people talk about what finally made senior year “real” for them. This was it for me. Before we sat down to discuss the specifics of the year to come, I didn’t realized what “the year to come” would entail. Every year I find myself with a few memories, fond and not, of my academic classes. Creative Writing is the only one that maintains a consistent narrative, that is populated almost entirely by people who intrigue me, whose life stories I would be more than willing to sit down and listen to in full. It is where I find the majority of the people my own age who are very important to me. It’s hard to imagine life without that.

I know that once I am out of high school, everything will change. But, in the same way that Creative Writing is significant now, it will be the thing I miss most about high school (though if we are being honest, how many people miss much about high school?). The way I act in the real world will reflect the array of things I learned in Creative Writing, and I’m not even sure that list is topped by writing. It is no doubt too early in the year for a sentimental senior-year post like this, but essentially, thank you. Thank you all.