The anxiety of college applications


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photo via Fastweb

I open my laptop, click onto Google Chrome and open up my intended website. I sign into my account, click on my application status, and see that it’s (sigh) still under evaluation. 

For many seniors, this is a daily reality that is faced whether it be every morning before classes or at night as they head off to bed. College applications are rushed out in the early fall, only to remain in limbo oftentimes until January or February, maybe even March.

Colleges are sent tens of thousands of applications a year, with deadlines as early as November 1. This deadline presents an already stressed-out collective of high school seniors with yet another task on their to-do list. 

These applications can involve hunting down teachers for recommendation letters, scouring through past achievements for application-worthy merits and writing a flawless essay in 500 words or less. 

The process is exhausting, and leaves students scrambling until the last minute to get in their applications, while also paying large sums of money for the chance to even be considered by these universities. 

It’s understandable that colleges are bombarded by these large amounts of applicants, but there has to be a better way. Waiting month after month to find out where you’ll spend the next four years of your life is not how you should spend your last year of high school. This process of anxiety-filled rushes to the laptop or endless refreshing of an inbox aren’t good for your mental health. 

Up until recently, the process was even more difficult, but thanks to COVID-19, standardized test scores have become optional where they were once absolute. In addition to applying to these colleges, many students were tasked with raising their ACT or SAT scores in order to be considered for acceptance, often studying the days away only to eventually receive a rejection letter.

While many universities are still very selective about students, the process has definitely lightened up. There has been a gradual transition of thought over the years, with universities putting less emphasis on test scores and more focus on a student’s talents and extrinsic qualities. 

High school students face a large amount of stress, and the culture of high test scores and perfect grades only worsens their already abysmal mental health. A majority of students spend their high school careers filling schedules to satisfy a college admissions board, only to be turned down in the end or placed on a wait list that may never bring acceptance. 

Is there any way to combat this toxic system that needs a serious revamp?

Lucky for us students, there is. One of the main ways to start placing less emphasis on the college application process is to stop checking that email. Checking an inbox every half hour won’t benefit you, but it definitely will hurt you in the long run. No one needs this type of anxiety and constantly making yourself feel bad over the lack of an acceptance letter isn’t worth it.

Don’t like the way a college has treated you in the admissions process? Go tell an underclassman about it. 

If you feel that you haven’t been valued as a potential student for a university, go tell someone else to save them the anxiety and troubles of dealing with that school. Remember: universities need students to succeed. You can always run off and find a welcoming school, the university cannot exist without us.

Lastly, remember that this will all be over in a few months. By the time you’re in college and busy studying, you won’t be thinking about the rejection emails, but just the positive experiences at your current school.