In today's young adult literature, dystopian stories are all the rage. The most popular of them all, The Hunger Games, follows Katniss Everdeen, a tribute from a poor district, who must fight to the death. When I recently re-watched the movie, I saw a few distinct parallels between the dystopian future of Panem and our college admissions process. I may be a little over-the-top with this list (okay, a lot!) but bear with me and you'll get to watch a lot of Hunger Games videos.
Parallel 1: Career Tributes
In The Hunger Games, they are called Career Tributes. For college applicants, they are legacies. These folks have a huge advantage in the whole process. Legacy applicants often only compete against each other for a set number of slots. These legacy applicants have often been trained for the school they are applying to by their parents as well, giving them an advantage for application content.
Parallel 2: Ranking of applicants
May the odds be ever in your favor. College admissions often seems like a "black box" where no one really knows how they create formulas for life-changing decisions. There is a magic combination of leadership, grades, courses taken, volunteering, working and family that only the selection committee knows.
Parallel 3: Interviews
If you have to interview for admissions, it is terrifying. No matter how many skills you have or talents you possess, the interview is the best way to make it happen. For scholarship dollars, admission or higher rankings, making people like and respect you is absolutely key -- and scary.
Parallel 4: The fight for scholarships
Much like this cornucopia scene, there are plenty of scholarship dollars out there, but the competition for them is fierce. To get to the best options, you will have to fight tooth and nail to get there.
Parallel 5: Perfecting your application
It can often feel like your application is not getting the right attention. Maybe that first try goes off the mark or you are the last applicant of the day, like Katniss. The application process seems to penalize students unfairly who might stumble a bit at first.
Parallel 6: Your personal statement
When you are writing your life story for public consumption, it can seem like colleges start to own you. No matter your previous objectives for doing any of your activities, it starts to feel like you did everything for them. Remember what your motivations are and why you play sports, or volunteer with your church, or whatever it is you do.
Parallel 7: Being waitlisted
Being waitlisted is scary. It feels like they changed the rules on you last minute -- now the competition is even more deadly. Waitlisted means that you are waiting to see if anyone declines their admission spot and then you are next in line. Just like Katniss and Peeta, it can be so hard to be at the finish line and hear that only one person can make it in.