Senior Reflections

Senior Reflections

Ava Ford, Staff Writer

Depending on where you are in your high school years, the college application process can seem very different. You may be starting to talk to your guidance counselor about the right path for you, or you could be panic-applying at the last second before deadlines. Regardless of your progress, many seniors are now reflecting on their applications, as most are waiting for their decisions. After hearing from seniors on their regrets and suggestions regarding the application process, we’ve summarized their responses.

The most common response we got from seniors was to start early. Most college applications open in August or September, but it’s advisable to start working on the written and financial aspects of your application far before that point. Perhaps the most daunting part of the application is writing a personal essay as it entails a type of writing many students are unfamiliar with. Many seniors advised looking into the Common Application’s essay prompts and beginning to brainstorm and outline the essay over the summer, and starting the school year with at least a first draft. If possible, you should have locked in your application list by the end of the summer, so at that point, you know what supplemental writing you may have to do. Amidst all of this writing, there’s also the FAFSA and CSS applications, alongside the many scholarships available to students. The deadlines for financial aid and scholarships can often come before the application deadline itself, so many seniors advised making a spreadsheet or document to keep track of these dates.

Another response we saw frequently was to start building your list and visiting as soon as possible. Many seniors said they wished they’d added more safeties to their list as colleges are only getting more competitive as time goes on. With numerous colleges introducing a non-binding Early Action round in addition to the binding Early Decision round, many seniors also advised that you take advantage of the EA round. This means you’ll get decisions back sooner and have the opportunity to improve your application and if you are deferred, resubmit for the Regular Decision round. If you do choose to apply ED to a school, many seniors would caution you to not put all your eggs in one basket and continue to prepare your other applications as you would otherwise.

Lastly, many seniors regretted limiting themselves to only schools in the Northeast. Though the Northeast has much to offer in terms of strong schools, it can be quite expensive and competitive. Several seniors mentioned wishing they had been more open to looking further across the US and even international schools. Though it may be harder to visit your family, going to school farther away can be an amazing experience because the different teaching styles and cultural differences can be a great way for students to broaden their horizons. Regardless of what you want to major in or how many applications you submit, the application process can be daunting. When decisions start coming in, just remember: it’s not just rejection, it’s redirection.