If you’ve grown up in an environment that values prestige and extrinsic accomplishments, applying to college is a major milestone. It’s the culminating event for years of effort: AP exams, extracurriculars, impressing your teachers for reference letters. All for a shot at getting that coveted acceptance letter in the mail.

My own experience with college applications was as stressful as you’d expect. I was surrounded by peers who were thirsting for admission to a prestigious university and who felt the pressure to succeed from all directions. It was a status game that we played with desperation, and teachers and parents…

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