‘It’s not you, it’s me:’ a Breakup Letter to Colleges

Maura O'Sullivan, Staffer

aura When I first saw you in my inbox, I thought we were meant to be. We met through the College Board Student Search Service™ one cool November afternoon, and it was love at first click.

The instant I held my standardized test scores up to yours, I knew it was a match. You showered me with praise and sent me links to personal webpages. Every quiz you sent me said we were destined to be together; whether I planned to major in Biochemistry or Underwater Basket Weaving, Samford University assured me, I would thrive at Samford University. You told me I was special, and I fell for your sweet nothings.

The honeymoon phase was short but sweet. Washington & Jefferson University saw me working hard. Brandeis wanted me to do what I love. Olin College of Engineering thought we’d be a great match. Cornell College (not to be confused with Cornell University) wanted me to “immerse myself in my future.” Young and naive, I was charmed by your impressive endowment and hundreds of unique majors. I trusted your promises of fully-met need-based financial aid and internship opportunities. You told me I wasn’t like other students and that I needed a personalized admissions guide only you could provide, and for a while, I believed you.

You asked me to come stay with you for the summer. Emory, Yale, Brandeis, Brown and all your other highbrow friends urged me to think about my future and apply for their pre-college programs. I wasn’t ready for that kind of step yet, but I felt honored to be so wanted.

But I quickly realized that nothing gold can stay. You were always in my inbox. You flooded me with emails, night and day. You were constantly asking for my parents’ phone numbers and emails. “I just want to connect with your family, Maura,” you said. “Why can’t you share the college admissions experience? Don’t you care about the college admissions experience?”

I was on my last straw when you found my address and came to my house in the mail. As I stared at your shiny pamphlet and the shiny students plastered across it, I wondered if you’d courted them with the same tenacity. Part of me knew this was no longer healthy, so when I saw an email with the subject “We’ve got our eye on you,” I grit my teeth and unsubscribed. I didn’t understand how the College Board Student Search Service ™ steered us wrong. I truly believed we could have made this work.

This relationship has taught me many truths that I’ll never forget. I’ve learned that Grinnellians make the prairie roar. I’ve learned why Duke cares about affordability. There might have been a future for us in another life, but in this one, we weren’t meant to be.

Maybe it comes down to interests; I just don’t share your zeal for my future. I know you’ll make some other high school student really happy someday.

But for us, it’s over.