College apps bring their fair share of stress

Writing essays and applying for financial aid added stress to the college application process for seniors at one Maryland high school as they worked out what college they will attend next year before a January 1 application deadline for many schools, The Griffin reports.

Meher Hans, the editor-in-chief for the student newspaper at Dulaney High School in Timonium, Maryland, just north of Baltimore, writes that a spot survey conducted by the paper found that about three-fourths of students at the school who are applying to college think the college application process is “a source of stress.”

“There are too many essays and they take a lot of time,” the paper quotes one senior as saying. “You have to put a lot of thought into each of them. They aren’t just regular English essays that you can whip up in a night.”

Some writing prompts ask students what they like best about a college.

“For those, it’s not about you, which makes it a lot harder to write,” she was quoted as saying. “I had to do deep research about the colleges I was applying to and find the quirky, interesting facts about each school.”

As if the application process—along with digging up parents’ tax returns for financial aid, answering the same basic questions 10 times for 10 different schools, and sending in all the application fees—weren’t enough to stress kids out, getting a small envelope from the college’s admissions office, which typically signals a rejection, can really push them.

“Allow yourself a little time to be disappointed, mope around, and perhaps eat some ice cream,” the Huffington Post advises students after a rejection. “But before you get caught in a downward spiral of self-doubt, consider all the reasons that a rejection just isn’t the end of the world.”

The article then goes on to remind students that there are many paths to success and that dealing with failure can be an important part of the process of building good character. Keep in mind, Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team. He reportedly cried in his room for a while, and then look what happened!

Unfortunately, what many students at Dulaney High do is post their acceptances and rejections on social media.

“Kids who do get in blow it up: ‘I got into Cornell! I got into Cornell!’ And the kid who didn’t get in feels like their life is ruined, although they will probably get into a fine school,” the student newspaper quotes one guidance counselor as saying.

Even if they don’t, though, students who get rejected have many other options for building success, as long as they keep their lives in motion.

Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Katherine Cohen says she knows how drastically college applications and the process students go through to complete them have changed in the last decade. She’s an independent university admissions counselor, the founder and CEO of IvyWise, a comprehensive educational consulting company, and the author of two books about getting into college: The Truth About Getting In and Rock Hard Apps.

She knows that the ACT and SAT tests have changed formats; that college applications have become more complex; that college acceptance rates have dropped a little, primarily because capacity hasn’t kept pace with the increasing number of seniors applying to college. All of these help to create stressful situations for seniors.

But, she says, kids have plenty of options, including taking a gap year, enrolling in a community college, and gaining work experience, especially in their field of interest.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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