Mental Health and Colorado College

How did you learn about Colorado College and why do you wish to attend? (no more than 500 words)

During my interview at Colorado College, I explained why I advocate for mental health awareness. I recited some ingrained statistics, such as “1 in 5 teenagers experience a severe mental disorder”, “suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers”, and “50% of those with a mental illness do not seek treatment.” I spoke about my anxiety disorder and, through personal experience, detailed the conditions a stigmatized individual must endure. I explained why I took medical leave my second semester of freshman year due to my poor mental health and how I gained strength and resilience through my recovery. I detailed the club I started at my high school to educate teens on mental health and the psychology classes I took at a local college to educate myself. I was a human infomercial. Usually, when I tell my story, the listener timidly utters, “I’m sorry” and reassures me that “XYZ University has the best resources for students”.

But this time, it was different.

After my eight-and-a-half minute sales pitch, Toan Luong, my interviewer, asked the most effortlessly incisive question, “Why are teens suffering?”. It took me years to realize the very question that so naturally rolled off his tongue. In an adrenalin-induced reflex, I untangled my own, unproven theories by defining Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory, referring to obscure social experiments, and even drawing a pathetic diagram of the human brain. Once my intensity subsided a bit, I saw that Toan was just as sincerely passionate about teen mental health as I. He detailed the differences between the Asian culture in which he was raised and the American culture in which he now lives. It was this comparison that made me realize something uniquely alluring about Colorado College. Toan noted that in his primary culture, people cook for each other, children play together on the streets, and neighbors consider one another to be family. This communal way of life runs counter to how most of America lives. Toan called Colorado College his home and said that the collaborative, family-like nature of the school reminded him of how he had grown up. I wouldn’t have understood this had I not visited campus and met students and staff. There was some unseen but palpable connection between each person I met at Colorado College, from the Admissions staff to cafeteria workers to the student who kindly directed us toward Cutler Hall.

Last summer, I was only considering colleges in Southern California and Arizona. Now I, a girl who completely ignored schools with climates that plunge temperatures below 60℉, was considering which pair of my boots would work best in snow and how I would pack all of my sweaters. My visit coincided with a healthy dumping of snow and the foreign weather became comforting by the end of our tour. When my interview ended, my mom and I were invited to watch the Colorado College-University of Denver hockey game. I was treated like family from my first step on campus to the last.

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