Class acts

It’s that time again for SN&R’s annual College Essay Contest. Every year, the editorial staff combs through a daunting pile of submissions in an effort to find the region’s best and brightest voices—and reward the top three winners with some nice cash prizes.

Every year, however, I feel a little guilty reading through those essays.

I mean, who am I to judge?

For starters, I never even wrote a college-application essay. I took the SAT and ACT, but I can't recall, for the life of me, what my scores were. Truth is, I really didn't care about any of that as a teen. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but for various reasons, college felt abstract—something unattainable, out of reach.

When I was 17, I was barely equipped to deal with day-to-day life, much less get my act together to craft a thoughtful, insightful essay.

Post-high school, I attended community college; it'd take me another three years to make it to a university. Once there, I doubled down and made up for lost time, but still.

And so these students impress.

They labor over college applications, they pick—with meticulous care—a major, a life path, a destination.

Of course, life has a funny way of upending even the best-laid plans—but I certainly don't need to tell them that. Because, reading their essays, sifting through stories of loss and heartbreak, physical injury, emotional trauma, learning, and changed perceptions, it's clear they already know all this—this essay, this particular step toward college, it's all just the beginning in a life sure to be filled with wins and defeats, sadness and joy.

The class of 2014? It's gonna be all right. They got this.