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The obligatory college column


In just seven days, my first college application will be due. To celebrate, I have compiled everything you need to do to get into a top-notch school. You can thank me later. Amy Chen

The college list: Collect and sort all college mail by college. If you receive more than 25 letters from any school, riot against “the system” for destroying precious trees. Women should also form a separate pile for mail depicting one to three women riding horses. These will most likely be women’s colleges that explain that women’s colleges are better than other colleges because women get to work with women, which never happens at any other college. Stare at the pictures, trying to imagine a college situation in which you would casually ride a horse around campus. Take the remaining letters, check them for scholarship offers, recycle them and cry over student debt for the first time. Then buy a “War and Peace”-sized guide to college, carefully read each page top to bottom and pick your favorites based on the name of the college and its average test scores.

Sort your colleges out by your chances of getting in, splitting them into three major groups: “backup,” “likely” and “reach.” Then, refine your list with more categories such as “likely reach,” “reach backup,” “likely backup,” “backup reach” and “too lazy to fill out application.”

The Common Application

The activities list: List all your hours based on “that one time.” For example: “Well, I did practice piano for like, three hours a day that one time before the talent show, so I guess I play piano about 21 hours per week.” Worry about how the character count cut off the period to the end of your description. You’re right, that’s completely unforgivable

The essays: Whatever you do, don’t be yourself. Suggestions: your activities list (except in full sentences), an informative essay on your most financially successful family member and an anecdote about that one time you did volunteer work and realized that helping people is good. Write every sentence in the form “I was (blank)” as in “I was shocked. I was having an epiphany! I was becoming a better person.” Don’t admit that you have any flaws and don’t even think about writing something personal — what do you want colleges to see you as, a human being?

The arts supplement: Suddenly, look back at everything you have ever made with disgust. Try to create an entirely new portfolio. An hour into your first new piece, look back at your old artwork and decide “it’s really not that bad.” Send a painting of an apple from your second-grade Art Literacy class, supposedly based off of the work of either Pablo Picasso or Andy Warhol. In your artist’s statement, cite Pablo Warhol as your main inspiration, and title the painting “self-portrait.”

The interview: Dress in sweatpants and a tank top to convey your laid-back attitude. Bring your interviewer a gift basket filled with hotel soaps and half-used bottles of nail polish. When asked basic questions, connect each of your responses to your favorite TV show — “I’m like SpongeBob SquarePants because I have a cat that meows just like his pet snail.” When leaving the interview, do not say “thank you.” Saying thank you is too mainstream — it’ll just put you into the same pile as all the other polite losers. Instead, say “I’m glad you could enjoy my presence.” In fact, you should spend the entire interview trying to seem more important than your interviewer. This will leave your interviewer with no choice but to believe you are the strongest candidate for their respective college.

The acceptance letter: Be sure to post a picture of every acceptance letter you receive on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

The rejection letter: Be sure to click on and glare at every picture of an acceptance letter you see on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Amy Chen is a senior at Lake Oswego High School, and she writes a monthly column for the Review. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..