Navigating the college application grind


Applying to college is fraught with uncertainty and stress. jeshoots/unsplash

CASSIE CORREA, staff writer

Research, write, and stress-out. 

This is the current reality many high school seniors are facing due to the college application process.

The application process is straightforward- research colleges, have letters of recommendation, write essays, fill out the application, and submit. However, students are still stressed. 

Applicants tend to spend time thinking about how their life is going to be if they were to be accepted into one of their dream schools. This mentality leads to applicants “spend[ing] a lot of time stressing about the application details” of their dream school, which causes them to feel unprepared to handle rejection.

There are some things that applicants cannot control about the admissions process. 

Colleges must have a diverse set of students, so once a college has enough of a certain type of student, other applicants of that type are rejected. Also, an application may be read by only one person- if the person does not connect with the topics the applicant wrote about, the application could be rejected. 

Not having enough money to pay for college could also be a factor; this only happens if the college is not need-blind. Need-blind colleges do not consider financial status in the admissions process.

Over the past couple of years, admission rates have been decreasing. People are now applying to more schools, therefore meaning that colleges are receiving more applicants, but the “number of available spots for [students is growing] more slowly.” So colleges are now faced with the fact that they have to reject more applicants. 

Even though students cannot control these aspects of the college application process, they still stress out about it.

“Thinking about what we’re going to do moving forward in life isn’t something we’ve really ever needed to do, and taking on ‘adult issues’ for the first time is a bit overwhelming,” said Erik Lagace, a senior currently applying to college. Mr. Lagace also says that the financial side of college is stressful too, the thought of “being in debt from college is very scary and real.”

Other seniors, like Jadyn Ide-Pech feel stressed “about the insecurity that [came] along with applying.” Not doing enough “research on specific college requirements” was the root of Ms. Ide-Pech’s stress.

These feelings of stress are normal. A Youth Truth survey found out that only 45% of high school students feel that they are prepared for college.

But, students have found ways to deal with this stress. 

“I might go biking, hang out with friends, listen to music, or play an instrument,” said Mr. Lagace. “But sometimes you need to face the stress and think about it.”

Along with the normal college application stress, this year’s seniors have another challenge: the pandemic. Due to COVID, colleges were not giving open houses to prevent the spread of the virus. This gave students two options: visit the college virtually or not at all.

“I have only been able to attend virtual information sessions which definitely takes away from personal connections with admissions officers,” said Ms. Ide-Pech. Ms. Ide-Pech also says that in many of the virtual tours, she’s had to turn off her camera and view the school with hundreds of other high-schoolers, making it “difficult to individualize [her]self.” 

Mr. Lagace had a different experience. “I would have visited most, if not all of the colleges that I’m interested in. I would have gotten a lot more involved in learning about the colleges.”

Despite all the stress and the work that goes into getting into college, in the end, “all that really matters is that you have a degree,” said Mr. Lagace.