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Apathy gets you nothing

Photo Courtesy Abhinav Seetharaman (CC ’18)

All of us likely remember the moment we got into Columbia. We anxiously opened our emails, rushed to the admissions portal and got surprised by the video pop-up with congratulations. We made it. On May 1st, we all walked down our high school hallways with smiles as big as can be dawning Columbia gear and singing “Roar, Lion, Roar.” It felt like nothing could stop us. Those four years of studying every night, leading school clubs, trekking on service trips, and preparing for anticipated careers culminating with admission to one of nation’s most selective schools. We were in that 7%.

On NSOP, many of sat smiling next to our parents and guardians feeling that nothing could stop us. But eventually we hit some roadblocks.

After that initial month and a half, our rose-tinted glasses started to fade. And with that came the reality that Columbia was not going to be as much of a breeze as high school and that things were not easy. A lot of us joked that even though we got into Columbia, it felt like all we faced was rejection. From not getting that board position you wanted to not doing as well on that “Easy A” class as you thought you would. Many of us had to come to terms with the fact that life wasn’t getting easier — it was getting much harder.

Even on the internship hunt. Many of us expected “I have Columbia on my resume. I’m a shoe-in.” Instead, a lot of us received multiple emails and calls with the same dreaded line: “We had a lot of applicants this round and at this time we’ve decided not to move forward with your application.” It seemed as if Columbia wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. For the school we all adored and felt was going to give us all that easy one-way ticket to Managing Partner, it was anything but. But that’s the point.

At the end of the day though, having “Columbia University in the City of New York” on your resume doesn’t mean much if you don’t have anything to show from it. When Columbia admitted us, Dean Marinaccio wrote on the admissions portal  “We saw the spirit of a Columbian in you.” When we were admitted, Admissions Officers spent weeks looking at our accomplishments and seeing what we chose to do, how we were stretching and challenging ourselves, and how we actively sought to make a positive effect around us. And sadly, it feels like many of us have forgotten this.

Instead, a lot of us like to sit back and do nothing. How many times have you marked that you were going to an event and then an hour before decided against going, just because “you didn’t feel like it?” How many times have you made a commitment to a project only to drop out of it because “you just didn’t care anymore?” While this is by far not the case for everyone, it is the case for a lot of people. And I get it. Columbia is a challenging place with so many things to do and what feels like way too little time. But, at the same time, that’s why so many of us came here and why admissions officers fought for us to get in. They saw in us students who were willing to take a risk. Students who no matter how they felt about something were going to get it done and get it down well. And above all, students who cared about helping others and making a difference. They saw Columbians in us.

This year, more than 94% of people who will apply for admission will receive rejection letters. Many of these people will likely be qualified, passionate students who saw an opportunity to make a change with a Columbia education. As students here, we need to continue those ideas we all wrote about with passion rather than sit idle and rest on the laurels of Columbia’s name. This school only got to where it is because of the students and faculty here who overcame apathy and worked as hard as they possibly could to make a change. Now, it is up to us to continue that.

The Lion is Columbia’s only open-submissions publication. To respond to this piece or to submit one of your own, email submissions@columbialion.com

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