“I’m going to MIT … Moorpark in Town”

A joke that is all too common at Oak Park

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You have the right to do what you want, and the ability to do it when you want. High school is not the place where your dreams come to die, believe me.

The average American woman lives to be 81 years old. What changes can I be making with the 64 years of life I still have left? It’s not like Vera Wang debuted her start in fashion at age 40. It’s not like Steve Carell had his breakout role at age 39. (Wait … they did). I feel as if it’s simply not possible for me to go to a great college — I mean, I could have my parents bribe top tier universities with billions of dollars. But, that might be a bit more than what we can afford. Maybe I can join the crew team instead.

College itself is a daunting task — the researching, the applying, the physically attending.

I think a lot of us look at it like a school presentation; get it done 3.5 weeks in advance while your phone is locked away in a cabinet and with full knowledge that you will get an A, getting ready days before with pieces falling everywhere after your last glue stick dries and some winging-it the day of. Then, finally, interlocking those torn pieces of white printer paper from your English teacher’s room into one big disaster we call a ‘poster.’

Today, we are obsessed with what percentage acceptance rate a school holds, like the percent is an inversely proportional test grade. For instance, six percent is amazing, and 94 percent is unacceptable.

But I like to think of it this way: How many kids do you see lined up at In-N-Out daily? My math skills are pretty subpar, but I would say 25 a day from Oak Park alone. Now, how many high schoolers with $15.48 stolen from their mom’s wallet do you see at Mastro’s? Not too many. It’s not that Mastro’s shuts down their doors after five teenagers waltz in, it’s the fact that only 10 teens are trying to gain access.

Trust the stats.

Now, I’m not saying that the “Mastro’s of colleges” aren’t difficult to get into. We all know if you’re getting into Yale University you probably designated 75 percent of your life to in-depth research about the history of the endangered Amur Tigers population and cracked the solution to saving them. Or, I mean, you could also have gotten in because your last name was on a building.

My point here is why does all of that matter?

Just because my animal style fries are less expensive than your Heirloom Tomato & Burrata
Soup, doesn’t mean they’re worse. It just means they’re different. Maybe one day I will try your soup, love it and start getting used to it. But for now, I’m going to stick to my $4 steal.

And you may find your $4 deal too, even though college is a little more expensive than that ($9,000–$33,000). Different people excel at different things, and that’s okay.

The future is waiting in a secured container. And, when you’re ready, you can bring hammer to glass and make that future yours. Whether it’s right now, as you enter college, or even long after your standardized education is complete, you control what happens. Whether the life-changing experiences you encounter happen at Moorpark Community College or Harvard University, you’ll still be learning the same lessons. Maybe in different ways, but the intended messages will still deliver.

With the 64 years left on my hands I plan to skydive, meet Robert Downey Jr. and, yes, even go to college. Because, I have the ability to choose when my dreams come to fruition.

And that, my friend, is the beauty of life.

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