Last updated on November 15, 2019
With some early college application deadlines just past and others just around the corner, seniors have been working through one of the most academically challenging periods of their entire high school career.
By now, many seniors have already applied to one or more colleges. Early Decision is an admissions plan in which applications are submitted at an earlier deadline (usually November 1st) and indicates to the school that they are the applicant’s first choice. If admitted, the student is bound to attend, and is required to withdraw any applications to other colleges.
Early Action is a separate application which is often due by the same November 1st or 15th deadline but does not bind the applicant to the school if they are admitted. Both Early Action and Early Decision applications are popular among seniors because they demonstrate an interest in the schools, and will often be given a higher priority than if they were to be submitted by the regular deadline.
I checked in with my classmates Eason W. and Sasha B. to get a sense of how members of the class of 2020 are feeling during this exhausting process:
Jarod: How is senior fall going for you?
Eason: ‘Challenging’ is the word that I would use to describe this fall of senior year. Tackling college applications and our school curriculum at the same time adds a lot of stress and workload. Nonetheless, I am trying my best to do what I can do, so I guess the senior fall is going okay for me.
J: What expectations of the senior fall and college application process did you have?
E: Academically, I was aiming to complete four Early Action applications by November 1st and maintain good grades in school. For extracurricular activities, I was hoping that I could at least have some time to learn a new Chopin piece for piano during my free time. However, my biggest expectation for myself is that I wanted to enjoy my senior year as much as I can, even though there is so much work to do.
J: Has your experience lived up to these expectations?
E: I would grade my experience for this fall as a ‘B’, if reaching all my expectations perfectly meant an A in a letter scale. Although I found myself finishing a lot of the goals that I initially made – such as writing all the essays for Early Action applications and surviving in different classes – I barely have enough free time to rest at home, focus on my extracurricular interests or socialize with others. And I can not enjoy my time very well as I struggle with the continuous pressure that I felt from college applications, class assignments and tests.
J: What has been the most stressful part of the process?
E: For me, the most stressful part is maintaining a positive mood when dealing with college applications. It’s very easy for me to question myself when I start to write a college essay, since I doubt if what I write truly reflects myself and delivers a good story to the people who will read it. Whenever I think in this way while writing essays, I feel a little bit negative – I start to worry about the entire process…
J: How are you coping with the stress?
E: I go out of my room and sweep the fallen leaves in the garden of my house every Sunday morning. Doing this simple routine helps me clear out the confusion that I have in my mind, and even enlightens me with new inspirations sometimes.
Jarod: How is senior fall going for you?
Sasha: It’s going alright. With school, cross country and college applications it’s definitely been a lot more difficult for me than other years because I’m thinking more about my future, but I feel like with the support of the people around me and my friends, I’m making it through.
J: Do you feel like senior fall has lived up to the hype?
S: Yeah, I think so. I honestly didn’t think that it would be this difficult for me mentally. Trying to balance school and college stuff, and separating the two from each other has been really challenging.
J: How has your college application process been different from others, as a student-athlete, or in other aspects?
S: I haven’t made the recruitment process the biggest part of my college application and honestly for me, it hasn’t been very stressful because it’s almost helped me to get to know the schools that I’m interested in better because I get to talk to coaches and ask them questions. So, it actually has been really helpful and it’s pushed me to have closer connections with schools, which I feel like people sometimes don’t get.
J: Do you think that the process has changed the social dynamics within the grade?
S: Oh yeah, it has. There’s a little bit of tension, everybody is a little frustrated and stressed out, so I think people are taking it out in ways that I haven’t seen before. I feel like within close friend groups it’s been alright although there’s just been a lot more frustration with each other.
J: Have you learned anything about yourself through this process?
S: I think that I’ve learned that when I get to extreme stress levels, I get to a point where I almost shut down and I can’t do the things that I’m supposed to be doing. That’s never happened to me before because with school I’ve always been organized with my time and I’ve done all my work super thoroughly… but with this it’s been a lot more difficult since it’s deciding my future.
Next time you pass a senior in the halls, be sure to show them some extra love — and to our hardworking, ambitious, and likely quite tired seniors, we are positive that your work will pay off!