FEATURE: Senior Stress & the College Application Process

Matt Cahill

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When people think about senior year, they often think about relaxing and not having any work to do. However, for kids in high school everywhere, that is often not the case. The beginning of senior year is filled with the stress of one of the biggest steps you take towards your future, applying to college. The college application process can be overwhelming, and many students can feel like they’ve got a thousands pounds on their shoulders with it.

To find out more about this difficult process, the team interviewed a senior student at Tewksbury Memorial High School about their personal college application experience.

From standardized tests to writing a college essay, this student touched upon everything that they had to complete so that they could apply to their top college choices. When asked to describe applying to college in one word, this student did not hesitate. “Stressful. Beyond stressful,” they said. “Nothing has consumed more of the first quarter of my senior year than the college application process.”

Applying to college not only affects kids in school, but out of school as well. “My social life has definitely been cut back because of it,” our interviewee reported. Because of how busy of a time it can be, both seniors academics and social lives can take a huge hit. Many do their best to maintain their usual academic performances they normally achieve in school, but with the applications and other steps that are necessary when applying to colleges, some students can see their marks slip. Students can be so stressed out with the workload that they don’t have the time to go out and socialize nearly as much as they would have earlier in high school. Not only is it not good to never get out of the house and see other people, but pile on writing supplemental essays and filling out a college questionnaires, and you’ve got a recipe for anxiety and emotional strain. The expenses of college can also be very stressful, and students lose even more time out of their day if they work a job to help themselves save to pay for college. When asked about students working and simultaneously applying college, the interviewed student replied, “I am very lucky that I don’t work a job right now, because I can’t imagine what everyone else who has one has to go through with work on top of everything else! I purposely waited to get my next job once I am done applying.”

In anything, especially things made out to be scary like applying to college, there are things that are blown out of proportion and are not that big of a part in the grand scheme of things. Along with the student interviewed, 19 other students were asked about something they thought would be a bigger part of their application, but did play as big a role as they thought it would. Of the 20 students polled, 14 answered resumé, 4 answered supplementary essays, 1 answered the common application essay, and 1 answered college interviews.

At the end of our interview, we asked the student what the easiest part of the entire process was, where they simply answered, “Pressing submit! Now that it’s all over, the only thing I’ve got to stress about is waiting for a response,”

Even though it is not guaranteed that everyone will get into their top school, many former high school students now in college were willing to comment on why students shouldn’t be stressed out once their application is done.

Some of Tewksbury Memorial High School’s former students told me about their personal experiences about waiting for acceptance letters, and most said that no matter what, you will get into a school that you will love. No matter the school you get into, even if it is not your top choice, you will receive an education that is going to set you up to do great things in the future. One former student, who wished to remain anonymous, told me that “I did not get into both my first or second choice schools, and I love where I am at right now. I love all of my classes and how they will set me up to do great things once I graduate, and I’ve already got a great internship that I started at where I’m gaining very good experience!”

Although all of these students say that at the beginning of their senior years were very stressful, and that students definitely have more to do than they have time in the day when applying to college, but it is all worth it. All of the college students that were interviewed commented that it is not worth it at all to be stressed about what colleges you get in to once you mail out, but no matter where you end up, everything is going to work out exactly how it should for you.

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FEATURE: Senior Stress & the College Application Process