This week’s Coffee Musing is less of a personal introspective post and more of… an answer to a question that I feel like other college-bound kids my age never seem to stop asking me.
Here’s the short answer: yes. If you enjoy traveling and have had enough meaningful experiences abroad to express via essays, then yeah, colleges are more likely to be interested in you, because you’re ‘worldly,’ or whatever. Or so I’ve heard, anyway. Here are some follow up questions.
Am I planning on using this to my advantage? Yeah, absolutely.
Does it piss me off? Yes.
Travel is a privilege. Yes, it’s becoming more and more accessible, but there are still hundreds of thousands of people who can’t spare a day off of work or a few grand for an airplane ticket. I can’t even begin to explain how angry it makes me that the American education system, which should be a right, is as class-divided as it is. I can’t tell you how much I hate knowing that I’m part of a system where people have to pay their way to success, and even after thousands of dollars in student loans, sometimes don’t even get to achieve their dreams.
It’s gross. And I’m gross for buying into it.
Regardless, college applications are a thing that exist and I have to deal with, and many of you probably do, as well. And if you’re trying to get into a college, there’s no harm in talking about your love for travel to round out your character for the eyes of the admissions folk. As long as it’s, you know, a genuine appreciation for seeing the world.
Maybe I’m idealistic, or maybe I’m just really into honesty, but if you’re going to write about travel on your college essays, it should at least be out of a genuine love for it. Unless you’re a brilliant wielder of the pen, if you’re bullshitting your way through how much you loved that trip to Paris with your grandma in the height of summer, it’s going to be apparent in your writing. Any high school senior with a laptop can type up a 500-word essay about a camping trip to Yosemite, but a real, meaningful write up about travel isn’t just going to give a play-by-play of a family vacation, or talk about how that one tree you saw on the side of the road reminded you of Thoreau.
Travel is messy. It’s inconvenient, it’s expensive, and it’s hard. But it’s also fulfilling on a level that goes beyond the physical, and if you’re able to look past the trouble it takes, it’s always worth it. Finding yourself in a completely new place is a raw, beautiful feeling, and capturing that feeling on paper is what’s going to make you stand out.
So yeah, go ahead and write about travel. But if you feel like your passions lie somewhere else, you should probably write about that instead.
On a lighter note, I just set up a book blog to try to kick myself back into reading – check it out! [Yes, I know I have a blog-hoarding problem, shush.]
Happy Sunday, and good luck with your essays. [Try to finish them up before October. Don’t forget your recommendation letters, either!]
The Sweater Giraffe