The Stress of College Applications

If you ask a senior in high school, what is the first word that comes to their head when they hear college applications, there is a high chance they’ll say stressful. And that is because seniors have to juggle writing essays, filling out college applications, applying for scholarships and financial aid, all while juggling their current course load for the year.

 However, students are not the only ones who are stressed during college application season, so are teachers. Teachers have become the backbone to most college applications, they have to make sure they write their student’s a worthy letter of recommendation and possibly proofread student’s essay, alongside being a teacher who has to plan curriculum and teach the curriculum. 

The process of applying for colleges isn’t just done in a day, but in a matter of months and planning for college isn’t just done the same month as you apply, but possibly a year in advance, because during Junior year students start researching colleges/universities they want to attend and then over the summer potentially go visit those colleges. Planning for college is let alone stressful enough, but students need to find the school that is right for them. Every college/university is different and can offer different things to each student, which is why it is important for students to consider all their choices carefully and apply to the ones that seem like the best fit for them, however, with all these options come application deadlines that students will have to manage time appropriately. 

Students constantly stress about whether or not they’d get into the school they want, they don’t know if their grades and SAT or ACT scores are good enough, but a thing many students don’t consider it that grades and test scores are not the only thing college admissions look at. After sitting down and talking with Mr. Jerome Patt, a Junior math teacher at East Leyden, he shared a little bit about his youngest son’s college application: “My son who got B’s and C’s in High School was involved and an active member of his school and that is why he got into University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a school he had no business getting into because of his grade, yet still got accepted into because of how involved he was”. Grades do have an impact on a student’s acceptance, but grades aren’t the sole reason behind an acceptance or rejection. Being involved in your school, shows many characteristics about a student that grades can’t show, if a student is involved they learn time management skills, and  know what it means to be committed, which is what college admission officers look for in their potential students. Words of advice from Mr.Patt “ get involved” never miss an opportunity to get involved at your school, taking leadership roles, and trying new clubs or sports.

A big question that goes around the senior body is whether or not they started their personal essay and if so, what did they write about. This is such a common question asked among peers because of how overwhelming it is to write a solid essay that’ll wow admission officers. Every student has their own story and colleges do not want all of the same students, so they dive into the essays written to see the depth of each applicant. Junelle Saroca, a senior at East Leyden says,” your personal essay I’d say would be the most important part of your application because everyone will write something different and their personal essay truly defines them because they are 100% in charge of what they write and submit for the admissions officers to read. They’ll write about something that speaks to them,which can say a lot about a student”. Colleges include personal essays in their applications because they want to get to know the student beyond their grades, they want to not just accept the students who are point-driven, but the students who are driven in general to succeed. 

However, students are not the only ones dealing with the stress of these personal essays, so are the teachers. A crucial step to writing your essay is having it proofread, preferably by an English teacher, so that they can make sure it is grammatically correct. So teachers have the stress of reading their student’s essays, and it isn’t just one essay it’s multiple, but during the time periods where the read student’s essay, they have to write numerous letters of recommendations. Mr. Patt writes an average of 20 letters of recommendations a year, which is a lot when you have to plan and teach classes throughout the day. That alone is stressful, but trying to write the best letter of recommendation for a student is stressful too, having to remember the moments in class with them, which was probably months back and having to make sure you finish all the letter of recommendations on time for your students. 

A piece of advice for any senior applying this year: don’t wait until the last minute, however this advice is for juniors too, it is never too early to start looking into colleges and starting the application process. So good luck to every senior applying and to the future eagles who will soon start this process too.