‘Where’s Waldo?’ As New Essay Topics Are Published, The College Admissions Process gets Sillier

Have your ever thought, “Where is Waldo?”? Then you may be the ideal college candidate. Higher education institutions are asking deep questions, such as prompts for essays, according to the Wall Street Journal .

This is my answer:

It’s always ‘Where’s Waldo?’ and never ‘How’s Waldo?’ pic.twitter.com/1ZwoyUDHy3

— Rombutan (@rombutans) August 1, 2022

The admissions process begins in earnest this month, as the Common App, accepted at over 1,000 colleges and universities, officially became available on August 1, sending high-school seniors’ stress levels to the stratosphere and freaking out anxious parents.

Happy #CommonAppDay! This is a crucial day for many college students who are pursuing their dreams. The 2022-2023 Common App is now live! pic.twitter.com/lcRJwnLC6E

— Common App (@CommonApp) August 1, 2022

Applications and essays are more important than ever as around 72 percent of schools have made college entrance exams like the SAT and the ACT optional. As admissions consultants will inform you, it is important to bring the best essay. What advice can a wisdom tooth give ?”

? Schools like Chicago, which are highly competitive, will ask you how you accomplish this.

“What am I supposed to do with that?” asks 16-year-old Rachel, who is still deciding on where she will apply.

Why do colleges ask seemingly irrelevant and silly questions? Peter Wilson, U of Chicago admissions director, explains the lessons he hopes to gain from these questions. According to the WSJ:

“How do they think? “How do they think?” These prompts are a long tradition at the school and tell applicants something about the university. “Constantly pushing boundaries and creativity, that’s the type of culture we create here.”

Another such strange prompts are

  • The University of Maryland asks what’s your favorite thing… about last Tuesday?
  • Chapman University, meanwhile, asks applicants what dish would they cook for the school’s admission staff.
  • Princeton University, not wanting to be left out, wants to know: “What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?”
  • The University of Vermont has a burning desire to find out, “Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined) best describes you?”
  • More from the U of Chicago: “Genghis Khan with an F1 racecar. George Washington and a Super Soaker. The toaster of Emperor Nero. Leonardo da Vinci and a Furby. If you could give any historical figure any piece of technology, who and what would it be, and why do you think they’d work so well together?”
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While these questions may seem ridiculous, admissions is not. Kacey Fifield, a high-school student writing for International Policy Digest reports that 4 out of 5 Americans think that the college admissions process is unfair. Their fears about the system being rigged were heightened by the Varsity Blues scandal. Asians felt also discriminated against and filed a lawsuit against Harvard University after losing the first round. However, the Supreme Court will hear that case and another one dealing with affirmative action on October 31, with many wondering whether the Justices will declare race-based admissions unconstitutional.

The whole process can cause anxiety in young adults.

In fact, 66% of high school students reported “often or always” feeling worried about getting accepted to attend their chosen college, with the stress levels of modern-day teenagers far exceeding those of their adult counterparts.

Extra-curricular activities, leadership positions and awards are a way to make a student stand out.

However, at a concerningly rapid rate, high school students get involved in as many activities as possible, believing that spreading themselves thin is the only way that they can get into college. Students who are only interested in college applications can take a lot out of their lives. They often spend their free time on activities they do not enjoy, which could lead to poor grades and worsening mental health. Each generation of high schoolers is constantly trying to outdo their peers and adding to their work load to make themselves more attractive to colleges.

Although the college admissions process was flawed in my experience, two of my children were able to navigate it and found schools that fit their needs. This is not a discussion about what these colleges actually teach (hint: RedState readers will be horrified). I’ve got two more going through the maze, though, and I only hope they can find their perfect schools and Waldo.

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