Grand Rapids Herald Review writer and high school senior Jace Wagner shares his thoughts about success as he begins his journey towards college, and a solid list of intentions that will serve him well along the way!

Jace Wagner

It’s something that has always been a distant goal, something that seems to have been predetermined for me by persistent efforts on other’s behalves. The importance of college has been driven into me by several people in my life, from my parents to my teachers and even my peers. Now, as I’m preparing for my senior year of high school, the college journey is beginning.

I’ve seen it in others and I’ve seen it in myself as well, the increasing concern over getting into a college. School has transitioned from somewhere we were forced to be when fall came around to a competitive and continuous effort to succeed in order to impress an unknown college admissions office worker.

It’s a busy and stressful time in life, full of standardized tests and endless letters in the mail from colleges you didn’t even know existed. Where do I begin? What school is best for me? What do I even want to do? It seems like every decision is the decision that will decide your future. At times, it seems like all the work is pointless and unrewarding. All of the obstacles that stand like impassable mountains on the college path, at times, seem unconquerable. As the cost of college steadily increases and the standards to get in keep getting higher and higher, it gets to be quite intimidating.

Despite the struggles, the college search is also a very exciting time in life, full of new opportunities and change. The goal of college provides something to strive for; it pushes students who share the desire of bettering their futures to be the best they can be and instills in them an impeccable work ethic and unfathomable ambition. All of the pressure that comes with college isn’t always bad. If you aren’t feeling any pressure, it only means you don’t care.

College will be the first time for many young people, including myself, to get a feel of what it’s like to be independent. It will be a chance to find out who we are and develop our own sense of how we want to live our lives. It will offer us countless opportunities to learn and grow, hopefully always improving our character. We will be faced with unfamiliar situations that will teach us valuable life lessons and at times we may face harsh realities, but in the end, it will all help us grow.

Soon, all of the classmates I have been going to school with for over 13 years will all be going their separate ways. The friends I have come to meet and grow close to will be dispersed throughout the country, all on their own journeys. It’s a bittersweet thought, but in order to grow, things must change and I believe this will be a change for the better.

I’m not sure what schools I want to apply to or even what I want to go to school for, but I intend to experience everything to the fullest. I intend to work hard and show everyone who has helped me along the way that it wasn’t for nothing. I intend to show them that their help was needed and was worth their effort. I feel grateful to have lived here in Grand Rapids, learning valuable things that I will take with me wherever I go in life. I intend to show the people I meet along my way a little bit of where I come from and the values that have been molded into my character.

Email Jace Wagner at