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A Bittersweet Time for Seniors

The college application process brings both excitement and nerves for seniors

  As fall comes to an end and begins to transition into winter, high school seniors are wrapping up their college applications and contemplating their futures after graduation. Many seniors who plan on attending college next fall are still chipping away at these rigorous applications, and those who are already done are eagerly waiting to hear back. Seniors who have completed their applications and turned them in by the Nov. 1 ‘early action’ deadline are feeling relieved of the intense stress and pressure that comes with applying to colleges.

  “When I was more stressed about writing essays, I kind of fell behind on school work to get them done,” senior Petra Wilson said.

  Staying on top of school work and maintaining high grades has been difficult for the large portion of seniors applying to colleges this time of year. College applications are an entire extra workload that students must balance along with their usual school work and extracurriculars.

  “[My stress levels] have definitely been higher. It’s been a lot of work, on top of doing regular school work, AP classes and stuff like that. So I’ve definitely had higher levels of stress,” senior Eva Lawson said.

  Likewise, teachers and other faculty members have experienced a shift in their typical routines as well. While students are the ones actually applying to colleges, people such as their parents, teachers, or counselors greatly aid them in this process.

  “It is sometimes an overwhelming amount of work. It’s like another job, to help kids with recommendation letters, and the common app, and answering questions, and reassuring anxieties. It’s a lot,” science teacher Mary Brisbois said.

  Many applications, especially ones to challenging and prestigious colleges, require teacher recommendations and creative essays.

  “Many colleges have supplemental essays, so it’s not even just the common app essays, it’s the two to three essays that every other college requires in addition to the common app essays,” Lawson said.

  Students spend weeks perfecting their essays, ensuring they’re in their best possible shape. For many, this involves multiple rewrites and countless peer editors.

  “I had to have Mrs. Cole read [my essays] probably like ten times,” Wilson said.

  Teachers take on an important role in this process. West’s writing center has been filled with seniors looking for ways to improve their writing pieces. In addition to reading over seniors’ essays, teachers have also been tasked with writing essays of their own. Letters of recommendation are a significant part of these applications and can make a huge difference in a students’ decision status. However, this means that teachers must take on extra work in order to help their students.

  “It takes me about an hour to write one. I think I’m around 25 right now, so that’s like 25 hours worth of work. And no time is allocated into our job for that, so I still have to do all my planning, I still have to do all my grading. And my grading is what falls, I’m not able to give my students the feedback that I want to,” Brisbois said.

  Teachers and students alike put immense time and effort into these applications, and this time of year can bring stress to homes in other ways as well. American colleges are expensive, and cost students, or their parents, tens of thousands of dollars. As soon as seniors finally submit their applications, they then begin to worry about filling out scholarship and financial aid applications.

  “Not only am I stressing about the essays and stuff, but I’m also thinking about financial aid and making sure I have enough money to go to college with as least amount of debt as possible,” Wilson said.

  A lot runs through seniors’ minds during this time of year. Students have put countless hours into these applications in hopes of achieving their dreams.

  “A lot of teachers know that we’re also in the midst of doing college applications, and a lot of teachers that I’ve had this year, [I’ve gone to them and said,] ‘hey, I’ve got a lot of work on my plate, especially with college applications right now’ they will totally understand,” Lawson said.

  This tedious process is a leap towards a bright future. For those who plan on attending college after graduation, the anticipation is bittersweet.

  “I’m really excited, I want to go somewhere far away, I don’t want to stay here. I just want to be able to meet new people and have new experiences,” Wilson said.

  While seniors prepare for their futures, they also take time to appreciate what they have here in Traverse City. Moving onto a life after high school can be difficult, and moving away from friends, family and their hometown will not be easy for many seniors. However, college will bring on new responsibilities, relationships and environments, which is extremely exciting for most.

  “I’m very excited for college. I love Traverse City and all that, but I’m ready for a change of pace, to meet new people and have new experiences,” Lawson said.

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About the Contributor
Samantha VanWingen
Samantha VanWingen, Section Editor, Photographer
Samantha VanWingen is a senior and is taking the newspaper for the first time this year. She chose to take this class because she enjoys writing and has an interest in journalism. Outside of school, Samantha loves to be in nature, whether that’s hiking, biking, skiing, traveling, or simply sitting on the beach.

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