Learning to APPLY Yourself

Kaleb Cassidy, Staff Writer

As students across the country begin  their final semester of the 2019-2020 school year, graduating seniors experience the common state of “senioritis” (behavior that denotes a loss of concern for school). Despite the stereotype that seniors check out in their final semester, many students still have one final hurdle: college decisions and admission.

Starting in the 1950s, all students applied through a typical January 1st regular decision deadline. That dynamic shifted when a group of smaller colleges decided to “grace” students with a binding Early Decision option, hoping to attract top students from the Ivy League schools. 

Early Decision became a popular option as the admissions process became more competitive. Some students still feel an increasing pressure to apply early and improve their chances of admission. On November 1st, seniors across the country struggle to meet early decision deadlines. 

“I’m relieved I’ve done the applications for some of the schools on my list, but that’s not all of them,” said Senior Steve Jiang. “I’m still worried about the rest of them due in January.”

There are several difficulties that come with early decision deadlines, namely balancing schoolwork while simultaneously producing strong college applications.

“It all needs work,” said Senior Charlie Young. “For most people, there’s the idea that you’re not doing your best. Everyone knows that what they submit could be better, but the time crunch makes it hard to really turn out something pretty cool. College apps, they’re their own class,”

College essay prompts come in many shapes and sizes, so some of them present a greater challenge than others. Instead of ranking students based on their academics, admissions counselors strive to find well-rounded and genuine people through college essays. In these essay questions, applicants are expected to express most of their character in just a few words. 

“The hardest one is an open-ended question,” Jiang said. “You have so many [topics] to choose from and you have a limited amount of words in contrast to the sheer amount of information you can put down.”

St. Andrew’s students are lucky to have a school that gives them helpful resources in the college application process, however; even as students assisted in choosing schools and outlining our application schedule, there’s still a sizable gap between college-style writing and high school essays. 

“College essays, [are] a persuasive essay from you about you,” said Young. “There’s so much self-doubt. Like ‘that’s not true, I can’t lie to these people’, but you can’t be honestly self-deprecating. They don’t want to hear about that,”

Facing down college deadlines can be a stressful experience, but there are several methods of easing stress throughout the overall process. 

“Visit as many colleges as you can,” Young said. “First, there’s demonstrated interest, and you don’t want to get to the end of summer after junior year and realize you don’t have time to visit any more colleges.”

There are also steps you can take in easing the writing process itself and making sure you’re well-equipped to handle your deadlines.

“The most important thing is to research colleges and be on top of your game. When college counselors say ‘do your Naviance’, just do your Naviance,” Jiang said. “Be organized and spread it out during the week. It’s doable.”

Overall, the most important decision is why you’re even applying. Social pressure can make us pursue top colleges out of necessity; however, it can relieve a lot of pressure to know you’re applying for the right reasons and making a decision that will make you happy in the end.

“A lot of schools people are applying to, I think we’re applying for arbitrary reasons,” Young said. “Why do you wanna go here? Well, it’s a lot of impersonal things. Nothing specific to the college, so you just say that at the end of my search, you had most of the boxes I could check.”