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The Fault In The Application Process

 

We’ve all been there: college applications. Now it’s like deja vu, as graduate school applications are now in full swing. I’ve always dreaded the application process, not because I’m not a competitive applicant, but because I’m consistently overlooked. Throughout this article, I will explain my experiences I have had, not to boast, but in order to explain why I believe there is a huge fault in application processes. 

I have always worked hard in school. I make good grades, however my GPA is often not “good enough” or “competitive enough.” So, my application is tossed to the side without further consideration. What they don’t see is the hundreds of hours of volunteer work, countless leadership roles, international experience, etc. 

When I was applying to college as a high school senior, I was consistently told that I should have no problem getting into college because of my tremendous volunteer and leadership experience. In high school, I co-founded, lead and developed a non profit organization for three years in which I spent over 1,500 volunteer hours. I was the captain of my sports teams, a leader in a religious club, took multiple mission trips to Haiti, and volunteered at my church. Sure my GPA wasn’t a 4.0, but maybe that was because I spent most of my time outside of school volunteering, leading, and working. I recieved an award my senior year for the student with the most volunteer experience in the state of North Carolina. I was looked highly upon by my schools faculty and the many people I came in contact with through my many experiences. You would think that I would be a competitive candidate by admissions comittees. 

When the denied letters started pouring in, I found myself confused and furious because I knew exactly why I wasn’t accepted. They saw my “good, but not good enough” GPA and immediately made their decision. One of my top schools was NC State University and when I got the denial letter, I was devastated. But, what solidifies this fault is what happened not even two months later at a celebratory luncheon that the chancellor of NC State was attending. I was attending this luncheon because I was recieving an award for my volunteer work. The chancellor got up to make a speech and after hearing about my work from the previous speaker, started talking about how amazing of a student I was and how great my volunteer work was. He then ended his speech saying, “NC State would love to have you as a part of the Wolf Pack any day.” In total shock, I turned to my dad and we both started laughing. This only proved that the application process is so focused on grades, that it overlooks competitve applicants with much more experince. 

I got accepted to Appalachian State, which ended up being the biggest blessing. I love going to school here and I hate to see it come to an end. However, I can’t help but wonder if I managed to get in accidentally through a loophole. I was a competitive cross country and track runner in high school and was considering running in college. After submitting my application to ASU, I went came to visit and had a meeting with the cross country coach. I didn’t sign anything or commit to anything. All I said is that I was interensted in running for App. He talked to me about their program and said that he would “flag me as an athlete on my application.” I got my letter in the mail and had been accepted. I ended up not running for App. I in no way went to the coach because of this loophole in hopes of giving myself an “in.” But, I often wonder if the reason I was accepted was because of the “flag” or because of the hard work I had done. 

I am now sending out application for graduate shcool, and I find myself in the same situation. However, this time, I’m actually being told that I’m being denied because of my GPA. I have two major international experiences directly in the field I’m applying for. One of the experiences was a 20 week internship where I was able to practice in the position that I am trying to go to school for. I have many volunteer and leadership experiences than most applicants, but my GPA is slightly lower. I think it’s more important to get hands on experience; and that you learn more overall when you are getting experiences than you do learning in a classroom or from a book. Which is why I choose to commit myself to experiences. But, here I am again getting denied because schools see my GPA and immediately make a decision without looking further into my application. 

I do understand that you have to make good grades because you have to be able to withstand the workload they expect of you. But, the problem is my GPA isn’t that low, it’s just lower than some other applicants. Just because someone is smart doesn’t mean they make a good fit for the field. You have to have good social skills in order to thrive in any work setting, and how can those skills be developed without having many experiences? 

I find it extremely frustrating to be told that I am a “competitve applicant” but don’t get accepted. There is a fault in the application process and schools need to start looking at the entire applications and the overall student before making a spontaneous decision based on one number alone. 

 

 

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