My Divine Comedy

A student balances AP classes, extracurricular activities and college applications.

June 05, 2007

My Divine Comedy My Divine Comedy

In my first week of my AP English Lit class, my new teacher announced that we would begin the school year with one of the most famous works of literature, Dante’s “Inferno.” In his epic poem, Dante writes about his journey through Hell and Purgatory to eventually become the perfect man in Paradise. He struggles, hesitates and fails at some tasks, but ultimately rises above his flaws and learns to be a great human being.

While some ardent Dante scholars choose to believe the work literally, I prefer to view his adventure in a more allegorical sense. While Dante strives towards Heaven, I think his journey represents the overcoming the obstacles in our lives when we reach for a goal. Hence, I relate to this work of literature when I think about the obstacles standing in the way of success in my academics, clubs, and future.

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Senior year definitely poses obstacles in respect to academics. First of all, I need to keep up with the academic rigor of my schedule. Despite my senior status at school, I have to work hard in all of my AP classes. Since an AP class is equivalent to a college course, they demand more work. For example, my AP Biology labs require a lot of time outside of the classroom. I need to come into class early before the start of school to finish the labs on time.

Any of my friends will inform you that I am not a morning person and would not appreciate waking up early to titrate an enzyme solution. The lab reports are usually 20 pages long and count as a test grade. One error in measurement, data or calculations can completely throw off your lab report and your GPA. AP Biology is only one class; I need to balance four additional AP classes and one Honors class.

Just because I am immersed in academics does not mean I can neglect my extracurricular activities. Autumn is the season for club presidents to recruit new members, and I need to get the ball rolling for different club events. I am the captain of the debate team at Bolles (my school), and I need to pick topics for debates, set dates for practices, and whip my fellow debate nerds into shape. For my charity club, I need to plan with my fellow officers on how to interest students to crusade against world poverty.

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College applications are another huge undertaking for any senior. I feel as if I’ve started a new club because of all of the work. I also feel a sense of anxiety as I wonder whether I am good enough for the colleges that interest me. I know that my transcript and extracurricular activities represent my interests and my best efforts. However, a little voice of doubt in my mind always wonders, “Will that be enough? Will an admissions office truly see that I belong there? Will they see that Kristin Drew is a student who loves literature, math, debating and singing? Will they see that she is a great student who will diversify and add to the school community because she is unique in her pursuits of knowledge and truth?” Yet, as I read about Dante’s pathos from his journey, a line from “The Inferno” inspired me. He writes,

“A man must stand in fear of just those things that truly have the power to do us harm, of nothing else, for nothing else is fearsome.”

At that moment, I realized that I have nothing to fear in this “hellish” process as long as I believe in my mind, my heart and my soul.

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