Seniors applying for the early-decision deadlines are working through the application process. (Paul Szmanda)
Seniors applying for the early-decision deadlines are working through the application process.

Paul Szmanda

The stress of college applications is in full swing

October 5, 2019

The Common App: How can one form determine my entire future?


Jacob Casella

Teagan Smith is in visible pain due to her Common Application.

In March, my friends and I decided that we would throw a party the day the Common Application opened up. We decided that we would be proactive in applying to college, and start on Aug. 1.

This did not happen, however. Come the day of the application opening, I was partying with thousands of other suburban teens at Lollapalooza, friends were on vacation and others were still simply relaxing.

Deciding your entire future in the span of a few months is a daunting task to ask of 17-year-olds. I mean, I don’t think that I am in a place to know what I want to do for the rest of my life. When I go out to eat with my friends, we take an hour to decide just where to go.

How can you expect me to decide my entire life so quickly?

In the application process, there are so many questions to ask when deciding where to apply and what to major in.

Are you OK with taking out so many loans that you will have to sell your soul to Sally Mae and only eat ramen noodles for the rest of your life? Do you want to go to school just to find an attractive significant other or have fun at parties? Or do you actually want a great education to prepare you for a successful future? (Lame.)

In addition to deciding just where to apply, the physical application process is annoying. Self-reporting your grades takes like an hour each time you have to do it, and you have to do it a lot. Why would Harvard care if I failed Global Connections freshman year?  They shouldn’t.

And explaining your activities… ugh. This gets on my nerves. I did theater because I like attention, but how am I supposed to make this sound profound?

Writing a personal essay also sucks. How am I supposed to make my life a sob story? Like I cry during every movie I see, does that mean that I have emotional issues that will score me a full ride? Literally nothing meaningful has ever happened to me in my entire life.

College expects everything to be meaningful, but at this point in our lives, nothing really means that much.
The kicker is that the admission counselors know this too. They don’t care that you stayed at school every night until midnight prancing around in glitter because you’re on the quidditch team and it made you realize your passions in life.

This time of life is full of excitement and hard choices that I feel as if I am not competent enough to make yet, but I have to. By May 1, I will know a huge part of the rest of my life.

This is scary, so to forget about my fear of applying I put on my quidditch uniform to find out who I really am.

Hopefully Harvard will eat it up.

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The College and Career Center needs to get its supporting documents in shape


Sarah Barber

This is the email that seniors received from Ann Lichaj on Friday Sept. 27 regarding due dates for supporting documents in Naviance.

As of Oct. 4, requests for all of my supporting documents — letters of recommendation and transcripts — were due in Naviance in order to meet my Nov. 1 early action college application deadlines; however, I didn’t find that out until Monday.

The DGS College and Career Center prides itself on offering many services to students who are working on their post-secondary plan, but as someone who is currently in that position, I don’t think the services students are provided are adequate. Now, this isn’t to say that the College and Career staff aren’t doing enough — their work is extremely stressful, and I sincerely appreciate all they do, I just think that some information needs to be better communicated to the senior class.  

I’m applying to 13 universities and colleges. They’re all out of state, some are public, some are private, but most importantly, they all have different requirements. Everything that I’ve filled out or completed for these 13 schools, I’ve done solely on my own, and thank goodness I’m type A, because I’ve had my requests in for weeks, but this isn’t the case for many seniors. I started the application process with nothing but my own knowledge, as is the case for much of the class of 2020, but it shouldn’t be.

When seniors are given the senior focus presentation from the counseling staff during their English period in the first weeks of school, they do get information about working Naviance and requesting transcripts or letters of recommendation. There are slides for those planning on attending four-year institutions, trade schools, or the military; however, a grand majority of the presentation is geared towards those planning on attending the College of DuPage.

I left my senior focus presentation with zero information on how to request a transcript, request letters of recommendation, or anything regarding the Common Application.

The College of DuPage is a great option for many students because it has the financial benefits and academic necessities for which many are looking. The problem I have with that portion of the presentation is that it was not geared towards its audience. 

My English class falls third hour, and when the two counselors presenting to our class asked for students considering COD to raise their hands, no one moved. It’s not the fact that I’m in an AP English course, that caused the presentation to be disconnected from my class’s interests, but the lack of differentiation of the presentations between the various English courses. 

I don’t think the COD portion of the presentation should be slashed by any means. It should just be adjusted based on the plans of students in each course. The presentation should be able to take multiple different avenues based on which students plan to take certain post-secondary paths. 

This is a trend that simply can’t continue. On Monday, when I witnessed many of my friends who had yet to request letters find out their documents were due in four days and the anxiety attacks that ensued, I knew something had to change. The due date information was given to seniors only by email, and one that looked exactly like every other scholarship or college representative visit email we receive — so it’s logical that many people ignored it. 

The students aren’t completely off the hook. We must be more diligent in searching for this information and answering our own questions, but it’s next to impossible for students to get answers when many don’t even know the questions that they should be asking. 

What DGS needs is a senior focus presentation that is curated so that counselors are able to take different routes based on the clientele in each class. Emails with important information should have bold subject lines that make their message undeniable to their recipient. Online processes should be given in more than just a Screencastify video. 

After spending four years working diligently, being told that every single one of our actions leads up to and will affect these applications, we deserve more than a vague presentation, with video links emailed to us afterward to compensate. We deserve hard, tangible information. 

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