More is needed to prepare students for college application process
By the Editorial Board
Going through the college application process is one of the hallmarks of senior year. The process is exhaustive and involves a great deal of organization, money, and above all, time. For many students, this comes with a lot of difficult unknowns. To help with this stressful process, many students turn to college counselors, parents, and siblings who have either recently experienced the application process or have spent considerable amounts of time researching it. However, this leaves students without such support at a disadvantage.
As the editorial board, we understand that preparing an entire senior class is an incredibly difficult task. We appreciate the work the guidance counselors put in, on top of their many other duties, to prepare us for college. They each help us with SAT details, write an estimated 60 personalized letters of recommendation, and set aside 50-minute sessions to teach us as much as they can. This is even more notable as they also aim to help students who are not on a four-year college track.
However, the responsibility should not rest entirely upon our counselors. There are improvements that would allow seniors to gain more from the preparatory process. A key part of the solution is additional support from senior teachers.
Out of 21 seniors surveyed, only one spent time in their English class this semester working on their college essay. While some teachers offered outside help with the application process, it was only integrated into the Truth Through Memoir curriculum. These essays are an essential — and arguably the most difficult — part of the college application for most schools. Drafting, writing, and editing them requires a huge amount of work, as well as emotional dedication.
English teachers should make time in the fall semester to help students develop their essays. This would be a huge aid in helping students feel prepared and confident, especially for those who don’t have a college counselor, family member, or friend who can help them edit.
The general consensus in the senior class is that very few teachers acknowledged the college application process and the significant dates tied to it — Nov. 1 and 15, and Jan. 1 and 15. This surprised students, as many remembered previous seniors discussing how teachers intentionally gave them an easier workload during the most stressful weeks of the process.
While the counselor sessions — dealing with issues such as deadlines for the Free Application for Federal Aid, common and coalition applications, sending transcripts, and the counselor’s role in the process — were undeniably helpful, there are a few key things that would greatly boost the application process.
Of those surveyed, 39 percent felt like they weren’t adequately prepared for the college application process by the counselors, but 100 percent found the information sessions helpful to some extent. Based on survey results and the personal experience of the editorial board, one of the most common criticisms regarding our college application preparation is that there wasn’t enough preparation early on in our high school careers.
Things that seemed easy from the outside often ended up being the most difficult part of the process. These tasks included asking for letters of recommendation, learning how to file for financial aid, and determining what classes, grades, and activities get you into different schools.
Throughout our high school careers, smart periods and assemblies should be dedicated to addressing these issues on a regular basis. This would greatly ease the process when it comes to senior year.
These issues were dealt with in Jason Butler’s new Independent Living class, which is regarded as very helpful by the majority of the students who took it. Currently, the counselors are looking to make it available for two periods instead of one next year. However, due to the 24 other credits required for graduation, many students couldn’t fit this into their schedules.
The entire college process is a complex system that also requires vast amounts of time from students. While we do acknowledge that the high school’s limited resources make it unrealistic for seniors to expect to the same level of attention from general counselors as they would get from a personal college counselor, it is clear that the school could do considerably more to ease the stress the process creates.