I wrote this for a column that appeared in the Post-Crescent, Appleton’s newspaper, in December 2015. Given that the holidays are once again upon us, the spells contained herein might prove handy.
As we approach the height of the holiday season—and all the gatherings and celebrations that accompany this magical time—we also enter the thick of the college admission season, where many high school seniors are in various stages of applying to colleges, or waiting to hear back from colleges to which they have applied.
The overlap of these two seasons often gives rise to a peculiar phenomenon for those high school seniors, especially at the aforementioned gatherings and celebrations.
Just a year ago, they may have been ordinary teenagers, small players in polite conversations with relatives and family friends: How’s school? How is [insert activity here] going?
But now they are College Applicants, elevated to the leading role in conversations of a different sort from those same relatives and family friends:
You should apply to College A; I loved it.
I’ve never heard of College B.
How did you do on the SAT?
We applied to College X, Y, and Z.
I heard that [some shining star not in the room] just got into [name that evokes approving noises from everyone else in the room].
To the well-meaning folks asking questions or making observations, these may seem like friendly bits of conversation. But to the College Applicants in the room—for whom the college admission process can be an intensely personal choice—the public appraisal of that choice can create some challenging moments.
Luckily for those College Applicants, there is help from an unusual source: The Book of College Admission Spells. (We keep it in the Very Special Books section of the library at Lawrence University.)
The book is not available for check-out, but I have been authorized by our Very Special Librarian to share a handful of charms and hexes that can help College Applicants and their loved ones make it through the holiday season and beyond with their sanity and self-worth intact.
Perspectum Widensis – When cast by a College Applicant upon a person, this charm helps the spellbound become aware of colleges that don’t routinely appear on ESPN College Gameday. Useful for applicants to liberal arts colleges and other schools that may not be household names, this charm counters the effect of the Neverheardof Hex, a minor curse that causes one to think that not having heard of a college must mean it’s not worth considering.
Morthana Testscorus – A culturally subversive charm, it is best used upon students who have done very well in and out of school, but are suffering from the disappointment or anxiety that accompanies a low ACT or SAT score. When cast upon such students, it reminds them of their worth, and also opens their eyes to the more than 800 four-year colleges that do not require standardized test scores for admission (including the one where this spell book is housed).
MeNotWe – When around parents who use the first-person plural pronoun as the subjects in statements about their child’s college search (e.g., “We got into College A” or “We got a scholarship from B University,”), whisper this simple little spell, and the speaker will only be able to say the child’s name in place of “we”. (This is a diluted version of the more powerful charm, Notaboutyou, which prevents parents from holding up the College Applicant as proof of their own parental achievement.)
Non Overdoitum – When cast upon parents of middle schoolers and younger high schoolers, this charm enables the spellbound to encourage their children to challenge themselves in subjects they enjoy and excel in, but not to pressure them to take academic courses far beyond the child’s capacity. This charm counteracts the Youwontgetinunless Hex, which leads parents to believe that getting into college requires children to fill every slot on the class schedule with AP and honor classes, and to program every hour outside of class with activities carefully selected to impress admission officers.
I understand there may be other copies of The Book of College Admission Spells hidden throughout the world. I hope others with access feel free to share their favorite spells with those who might benefit from them.
Image credit: Magic Book by Nikita Kozin from the Noun Project