Taking Time to Reflect on the Application Process

In his commencement address at Kenyon College in 2005, the writer David Foster Wallace began his speech with the following parable:

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Foster’s point was that “the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see.”

In the college search and application process, it is so easy to get wrapped up into the details – deadlines, checklists, forms, supplements and requirements.  Taking care of these things is necessary but it can cause students and parents to lose perspective in this process.  This process is one that enables – nay demands, reflection and personal growth on the part of the student and that is perhaps the most valuable part of the college search process.

So as we reach the end of 2008 and you meet your final deadlines, submit your final forms and complete your final checklist, stop for a minute to think about how far you’ve come since this process began, how you’ve matured, begun to think and act independently and are now prepared to make one of the first truly adult decisions of your life – where to spend the next four years.

If you take that time to reflect back on this process, you’ll be prepared with your answer if you’re ever asked the question.

“The water is great – never better.  Thanks for asking.”

Andrew N Carter
Associate Director of Admissions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *