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Geoff looked up at the clock, 3:17 a.m.  His eyelids were kept open by the anxiety he felt everytime he read the word “common” or “application.”  With the Common App website burned into his retina, Geoff wondered why he did not start the college application process sooner.

Students everywhere just like Geoff dream of getting to this point in the schooling process; applying to college and getting into their dream school – but is it really all that dreamy? Although applying to college may appear to be the greatest experience in someone’s high school career, it can be very tedious, time-consuming, and stressful. Here, we find out first hand from Hall High seniors what the process is like and how it has affected them. 

As the first quarter of senior year came to an end, it was clear that many seniors were opinionated regarding the experience of applying to college, and the overall hype over senior year. The process of applying to college is a long, tiresome one, but it is also very exciting, because it is the beginning of the next chapter of a student’s life. Students would not be able to prepare for this process without the many resources that Hall has to offer. First, counselors serve as a valuable aid to students who find themselves overwhelmed with college essays, letters of recommendation, transcript request forms, and more. Another helpful source of information is Naviance. This is a website that is commonly used by seniors as it shows all of the important information about each college, and also shows the test scores of others that applied there, and whether they got in or not. Additionally, the Common App is another useful source often used by seniors as it has the college application along with other information about the specific colleges you are interested in. Together, Naviance and Common App provide a substantial amount of information about applying to college. Before getting into the actual college application process and what students look for in colleges, it is important to consider why anyone would actually want to go to college… Was 13 years of schooling from kindergarten to 12th grade not enough?

Earning a college degree comes with the benefit of bettering one’s ability to find employment and also earn more through their profession.  People with a Bachelor’s degrees had an unemployment rate of just 2.2%, while those with only a highschool diploma had an unemployment rate of 4.1% (Bureau of Labor Statistics).  In addition, over the course of a lifetime, people with a Bachelor’s degree will earn an average of one million dollars more than those with just a highschool diploma (U.S. Department of Education).  Thus, we can see that in many cases, going to college is appealing from a financial aspect in the long run. So, how should one think about the process of applying to college?

When applying to a college, there are so many things that people tend to look forward to, ranging from the community atmosphere of a college to a newfound independence from living away from parents.  Not only are these reasons to consider college for a post high school pathway, they are also what defines the opportunities that an individual seeks in a college. Unfortunately, many students fall into the mindset that we must get into the “perfect school”.  The school that is the one; if we do not, then we will have failed.  However, this misconception is simply not true, as the New York Times article, “After a College Applicant Hits ‘Send’” by Kelly Corrigan put it, “The lie says this is a binary moment: You’re off to greatness or you’re doomed. The lie says there is no other way to get the life you want than by going to University of Stretch Dream Reach.” (Corrigan).  The biggest mistake a prospective student can make is putting themselves under even more pressure by having this mindset of “University of Stretch Dream Reach” being the only option that leads to success. Furthermore, there are also other factors that pile on to the stress of the college application process besides getting into that “perfect” school.

 

The pressure that accompanies the college application process was brought to many people’s attention this year with the prevalent college admissions scandal that involved celebrities paying their kids’ way into college. The scandal led psychologist and CBS News contributor Lisa Damour to analyze the college admissions process and how the pressure has a profound effect on students and their parents. Damour emphasized the stressors and thoughts to consider while preparing for college on her interview with “CBS This Morning,” as she compared college admissions with college readiness: “College admission is really about your academic credentials. Readiness is can you maintain relationships, do you know how to take care of yourself? Are you sufficiently mature to handle the Independence of college?” Her examination of these two topics exemplifies the fact that students have a variety of stress factors while applying to college. While interviewing several seniors at Hall, it was obvious that many of them felt similarly to Damour’s observation regarding stressors relating to the application process. 

Applying to college, maintaining grades, sports and even having a job can make first semester seniors go crazy. One question we asked our interviewees was: “What do you wish you had known before going into your senior year at Hall?” Liam Wilson responded, “I wish I had known what exact classes I wanted to take specific to my major. I was originally in AP econ, but dropped because it would not be helpful for engineering”.

Another question we posed to our interviewees was “How has the college application process been for you?” Jack Del Coro stated that for him, “The college application process was very stressful, but once I settled down to get it done, it was easier to focus and complete it.” 

Mia Downey asked Allie Finman how the college application process went for her, and Allie stated that “The college process started very early for me, around the summer going into junior year. I wanted to get a head start since I’m very excited for the journey ahead. Everything was filled out early, tours were done early, my college list was done very early, and my applications have been submitted for almost a month…it was a breeze for me.”

Both Jack and Allie’s views on the college application process have clarified the common ideology that time is your friend when it comes to applying for college; The sooner you begin filling out the common app and using helpful resources around you, the less stress you’ll feel and the less overwhelmed you’ll be. 

Stress is bound to come along with the college application process. However, if you treat it with the right mindset and intentions, you will succeed. The college application process is very different for everyone as  some people already know where they are applying because their talent in a certain sport gave them advantages, whereas others have no clue. While college does not have to be present in everyone’s life after high school, there certainly are great benefits to continuing schooling at a university or college, whether this happens directly after Grade 12, or later in life. Senior year approaches quickly, and so does the college application process; Which is why it’s crucial to manage time wisely, take advantage of the great resources that are offered, think about what you want to accomplish after high school, and do your best to maintain a relatively stress-free college application process by remaining confident in yourself and in your potential.

In conclusion Hall High School Seniors recommend to start thinking about post high school plans as early as possible; do not be like Geoff.  Although Geoff got denied from every single college he applied to, Little Timmy did not make the same mistakes as his older brother. He took advice from his knowledgeable seniors and got accepted into every single college, as he began the college application process early and utilized all of his resources incredibly well.