Every March for the past five or six years, I have made the long (especially long now that I live in western Tennessee) trip to Frankfort, Kentucky, to pick up The Box. In doing so, I commit myself to reading portions of nigh on 2000 applications from high school juniors all over the state who hope to attend the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program, a prestigious summer program that all but guarantees those who get in full-tuition scholarships at a number of colleges and universities around the Bluegrass.
The process for applying to GSP is lengthy and competitive. Students are evaluated on a number of criteria including grade point average, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, honors and awards, teacher and guidance counselor recommendations, and an essay. Applicants must also write a short piece describing an experience or interest that is unique to them and sets them apart from their peers. Applications are judged at the school level, the district level, and then are passed onto us, the Statewide Selection Committee, where we make the final decisions and snide remarks about the typical entries we receive.
This year’s incarnation of The Box is very similar to every other year’s. A cardboard banker’s box, roughly two feet long, packed solid from one end to the other with applications in bundles of 100, and a few bundles on top. This year, thanks to a change in the scoring system, I have taken up again the “Uniques” while keeping my usual batch of Honors/Awards. I see no names–anonymity being key to fair judging–and that’s a damn good thing. As bad as some of these things are this year, I’d be tempted to call some of these students and asked them, “Who the hell are you kidding?” The majority of these are the written equivalent of a rabies vaccination.
Anyway, I’ll write more on this topic later on, including an open letter I am planning to all future applicants to the program. For now, I have nearly 1600 more applications to pour through by the 24th without giving in to the desire to shoot myself.