The days may be getting cooler, but for students, the college process is just heating up. As deadlines grow closer, students, teachers, and guidance counselors are rushing to check and double check to make sure applications are sent in on time and correctly.
There are around 4,600 different colleges, universities, and higher learning institutions in the United States, and only 180 seniors in the Holliston High School senior class of 2015. In the next few months, these students will be spending a lot of time preparing their applications and finalizing their decisions.
Marybeth Mont, a guidance counselor for the school, stated in an email interview “there is a lot riding on this time of year. Many seniors have been on college tours and are looking forward to college.” The process of discovering, researching, applying, and deciding is a long and complicated one.
Fall becomes the climax of the process because students are winding down their college tours and eliminating choices, as well as the fact that early action and early decision deadlines are nearing. “They [students] are anxious to get the college application behind them so they look to the fall to solidify their college selections and work through their college application,” said Mrs. Mont.
By now, most students are very well acquainted with terms such as the Common Application (an online form that colleges can choose to use for their applications), Naviance (a school program that helps students keep track of their application process), and most importantly, the word “deadline.”
While these are certainly important parts of the process, Mont believes that the key to a successful student’s college journey is the campus tour. “Every college campus is different and it is so important that students take some time on campus to explore all the college or university may offer.”
Many of the seniors interviewed have said at the very least, they’ve toured colleges over the summer. Some are certain which schools they want to go to, while others are still exploring their options. Jenna Ferland, a senior, knows that she is at least applying to seven schools. The average amount of schools applied to per student at HHS is between 8 and 10.
Students can become easily overwhelmed with options and questions. How do I apply? How much will it cost? Which school is best for me? These are perfectly reasonable questions from people stepping into the world of higher learning. When asked how stressed the idea of college makes them, all students usually answer with is “extremely.”
The reasons for the stress vary from not being prepared, to not knowing where they want to go. Senior Sarah Kosian is feeling the pressure. Even though she is about to apply, and has most of her work done, she said, “I just feel like I’m behind with all the paperwork.”
As well as the basic applications, students can be faced with additional essays, supplemental questions, and portfolios depending on where they want to go and what they want to major in. Art, theatre, and English majors normally have to include credentials and examples of their work.
“Colleges will see what students are capable of doing through their transcripts, teacher recommendations, and essays,” said Mont.
Of course, there is also the underlying question, “what if I don’t get in?” “I know it is completely irrational, I just worry that I won’t get into any of the schools I want to go to,” Kosian said.
Mont’s advice to seniors, or any stressing about college, is to “breathe through the process.” The earlier the start, the better. All of those interviewed said how they first started thinking about colleges their junior year.
Mont agrees and said, “When students space the college search and application process down, it tends to be less stressful.”
While college is not a required part of life, the benefits are hard to deny. When asked what she might want to get out of a college education, Ferland said, “Well I hope to get a job at the very least.”
The process is a rewarding one. Students get to travel to new places to visit schools, create bonds with friends and family over the stress, and discover more about themselves as people.
“Just before students click submit, I also tell them to make sure that someone proof reads their applications to check for spelling and punctuation errors. Then sit back, click submit and breathe,” said Mont.