RORY: I’ve been studying my butt off my whole life and I really thought that that was enough, but then Paris tells me that everyone makes good grades and it’s the extras that put you over the top. And I thought that she was messing with me like she always does, but she’s right. I mean, it makes total sense.
DEAN: What does?
RORY: Good grades aren’t enough. I need to do things. I need to volunteer. I need to work for charity, I need to help the blind, the orphans, I don’t know. I just need to do something.
Rory has been truly naive in thinking that all she needed to do to get into Harvard is to study hard and get good grades. Her teachers should have given her far greater guidance on getting into college; it seems as if they are leaving it all until senior year. Both Rory’s grandparents went to university and could have given more help, but then again, their knowledge of college applications is out of date.
Rory herself has not given the reality of college much thought at all, so going to Harvard is almost purely a fantasy for her, where she strolls around historic buildings and gets to feel smart and important. At some point, surely when she started at a private school, she should have come to realise what would be needed to get into college.
Because of this gap in her knowledge, Rory believes Paris implicitly that she needs thousands of hours of volunteer work to apply to Harvard, and panics. She should have at least checked with her teacher and her mother’s boyfriend, Max Medina before freaking out, or done a bit of research on the subject.