42: Filling Out the ACT Application

42: Filling Out the ACT Application

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Getting In...To College

Filling Out the ACT Application

Nobody can make you fed inferior without your consent.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

I knew that filling out the application to take the ACT was going to take a while. I knew I’d have to have a Number 2 pencil that was actually sharp and a check from my mom to pay for the test. I knew that the test was important and that I had to take it if I wanted to get into college.

What I didn’t know was how rotten just filling out the application was going to make me feel.

Filling in all those little ovals for my name, address, date of birth, test center codes, college codes, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera was bad enough, but my heart really sank when I opened the booklet and saw the ACT Interest Inventory, a list of seventy-two questions that asked if I would “dislike” doing a certain activity, feel “indifferent” toward it, or “like” doing the activity

How am I supposed to know if I’d like planning a monthly budget? The only budget I plan is how much money I can spend on CDs each weekend. And would I like, be indifferent, to or dislike attending the lecture of a well-known scientist? That would depend on who the scientist was, what he or she was lecturing about, and how much sleep I’d had the night before. But my favorite one had to be “engrave lettering or designs on a trophy or plaque.” Having never seen anything engraved in my entire life, I’m thinking that might be kind of fun to watch but I don’t think I’d actually want to do it. Does that mean I’m indifferent to engraving?

I’m guessing that these “interest” questions are supposed to help me decide what kind of career I might want to pursue, assuming I get a high enough score on my ACT to get into college. I suppose they’re also supposed to make me think about what I want to do with my life. That’s something I’ve been hearing a lot of lately but I sure didn’t expect the people who wrote the ACT application to join the chorus.

I slogged through all seventy-two questions, thinking that I had to be near the end. Wrong! Next came the Student Profile Section, 177 questions about basic stuff, like what I wanted to major in (as if I knew) and how much money I’d need (lots). Then came the part that really got to me. High School Extracurricular Activities. I had to answer Yes, I did participate in this activity (Y) or No, I did not participate in this activity (N). Activities included stuff like debate, music, student government. Speech. Athletics. Science. Community Service. It was downright depressing to see that I’d hardly participated in anything at all during high school. I could just imagine the person looking at my Student Profile. “Look at this kid! He didn’t do anything for four freaking years! He’ll be lucky if he gets a job indifferently engraving trophies some day!”

After finishing the entire application, I stared down at all the little black ovals dotting my form. The Ns in the High School Extracurricular Activities far outweighed the Ys. For several minutes, I just felt terrible. Personally, I don’t think “profiling” someone with a set of statements like “Wrote an independent paper on a scientific topic which received the highest possible grade given in my school” is going to get a whole lot of takers. I know there are probably millions of other high school kids like me who went through high school studying, doing homework, hanging out with friends, and just making it from one day to the next.

Then it dawned on me: This isn’t a picture of me. This doesn’t really say anything about who I am or what I like. It’s just a generalized survey, not a life story. That made me feel a lot better. That, and the fact that I was finally finished with the application. Getting up, I went to find my mom to get the check that would cover the application fee. I’ve heard taking the test is hard. I’m thinking it can’t be that much worse than filling out the application. And I’m pretty sure that none of the questions will have answers that are either “like,” “dislike,” or “indifferent.” True or false is a whole lot easier.

~Joe Musolf


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