U.Va. is obsessed with applications


Humor columnist Justine Baird describes the application-crazed culture of U.Va.

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

As a second-year at the University, applications have been endlessly shoved in my face these past few months. Every time I turn a corner on Grounds, another academic department or extracurricular opportunity is shoving a 500-word essay into my hands and running away with a sly smirk. Our school has an application obsession. The University is begging for its student body to wake the school up and cut off its access to applications like the parents that have to cut off their young boys’ access to Fortnite. We experience too many opportunities that require endless essays, recommendation forms and demonstrated interest. And, on top of that, our clubs are super competitive, too! While applications do hold importance — after all we all got in here through applying, U.Va.’s culture is entirely too obsessed with the glamour of the phrase “application-based.”

So, I ask you all, what is next? While there are plenty of things at our school that are application-based, there are still some hidden gems that are accessible. But, if this obsession continues to eat away at our school, many things will be consumed by the wrath of selectiveness. Take, for example, the dining halls. I want you to imagine if, suddenly, you had to apply to get into Newcomb. Crazy, yet ever so slightly believable if you really think about it. In this world, just because you have a meal plan does not mean you get automatic access to U.Va. dining services — you have to really demonstrate your passion for Newcomb cuisine to be accepted. Suddenly, Ms. Kathy is no longer welcoming you into the cramped dining hall with open arms. Instead, she has an office with a basket outside the door labeled “Newcomb Applications.” Questions on this application will require thought — it will not be some low-quality Google Form. For example, a question could potentially be “What about Newcomb inspires you to be a better dining student?” Then, only upon your acceptance will you be able to eat at the most convenient dining hall on Grounds. 

But, see, that’s what makes Newcomb so competitive. Everyone wants to get in to Newcomb. Who would want the predictable menu of O’Hill with its inconvenient location? Few, but not many. And, of course, Runk would be open to all because the University would have to give us something to eat. But, the best options in the best location will be reserved for those that make it through the competitive application process. Scary, right? 

In a few years, I would not be surprised if Newcomb succumbed to the application fervor on Grounds. Clearly if dining services were to give in and become application-based, there are so many more that could suddenly require applications. What about the libraries? People already argue about what library is best and why. But, imagine if you are already an Alderman fanatic, but you do not get accepted into their upperclassmen access program. Then, you are stuck with Clem and Clark? Yes, you will be stuck studying in a place that does not inspire you like the nooks and crannies of Alderman. How will it be possible to get any work done in a place that does not get you in that study time mood? Obviously, this theory is just ridiculous, Humor-section conjecture, too. But still, something about these possibilities weirdly hits home.

As I previously stated, I have experienced an ungodly amount of applications this spring semester. And, while I am sure that every student in every year at the University faces different applications for different opportunities both on and off Grounds, it is ridiculous how many things require U.Va. students to state their level of interest and explain why they would like to do something. Does interest even really have levels? I get it, the University is big — a lot of departments and clubs cannot accommodate the sheer amount of interest that is expressed. But, that doesn’t mean we can turn our school’s focus to something new. It seems to me that we need to start encouraging the University to take on a different obsession and obsess less with applications. Maybe, we can convince it that Candy Crush is a better pastime — my grandparents love it! Or, maybe the University should focus on basketball a little more. I’m pretty sure we have a big game coming up this weekend.

Justine Baird is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at humor@cavalierdaily.com

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