By Patrick R. ‘23
As we inch closer to the second semester, every senior is glad that the college application season is drawing to a close. It’s been a long, tiring journey for most, and may continue to be so for the last month as the grade collectively scrambles to finish up the last of their essays. To obtain a better sense of everybody’s thoughts on the process, The Gryphon Gazette sent out a survey to the senior class asking about their personal college application experience.
There’s a lot to handle when applying to college. It starts early, just touring schools and perhaps doing a bit of online research during the later parts of junior year. However, once one hits the summer, it’s full steam ahead. That’s when everyone (supposedly) starts working on their essays. Whether they choose to start with their Common App personal statement, UC essays, or simply a random supplement, there’s no denying the fact that it changes how the process is viewed. It’s no longer something that can be put off and ignored, but now must be confronted and handled, no matter how difficult it is.
However, coupled with that decision to finally begin working comes the stress. Whether it’s over a particularly hard essay prompt or the overwhelming mass of forms and questions called the Common App, each senior has felt it in their own way. The source changes from person to person, but when surveyed, only 25% reported feeling a below-average amount of stress, while a shockingly high 65% said that they were feeling above-average to extreme levels of stress. That almost assuredly isn’t healthy, but is a necessity for most in order to find the motivation to get through their own long list of essay prompts. Indeed, most seniors, 70% to be precise, said that their essays were the worst part, while a smaller 15% found that simply staying organized was the most difficult for them. That being said, for all juniors and underclassmen reading, it may be different for you; there’s no way to know until you’re in the thick of it.
When talking with current college students, most of them seem to agree on at least one thing; that they were behind on their apps during their senior year. However, that can’t be true. If everybody was behind, but still ended up finishing on time, then that means they were simply on track. Turns out, it indeed wasn’t true, at least not for the current seniors. The group surveyed showed a surprising amount of introspection, with their responses to the question “How behind/ahead do you think you are in the college process” resulting in a perfect bell curve of data, with most feeling on track, and a smaller amount feeling behind or ahead, and an even smaller group feeling extremely behind or ahead. This is an important lesson to remember for those preparing to begin their applications; it is possible to get ahead.
When asked to share a few words of wisdom (for posterity), one thing that almost every senior could agree on was that, whether or not they followed this advice themselves, starting over the summer and being productive can do nothing but help, and can make your first semester remarkably easier. In addition, you should never let others influence your own decisions when it comes to college, whether it’s by not letting a college’s prestige affect whether or not you apply or simply making sure that an essay truly remains true to you.
Ultimately, every person’s college process will be different, but there will always be at least one similarity: that it will end. So, it’s important to keep everything in perspective as you move along each step of this journey and to know that while applications and where you eventually end up are important, college is what you make of it. Finally, always remember that, in the immortal words of Theo E. ‘23, “everything happens for a reason, [so] don’t get stressed about what you can’t control”.