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Seniors share tips for college application process

Underclassmen, take note: Seniors have fresh insight into the college application process. Save this article and ask questions while they are still around.
Seniors+start+their+march+toward+the+stage+at+the+2023+graduation+ceremony.
Charlotte Horetsky ’24
Seniors start their march toward the stage at the 2023 graduation ceremony.

The college application season has shown to be a difficult time for many seniors. Now, their experiences can provide future senior classes with newfound knowledge and advice on overcoming the challenges this process may present.

Chloe Browne 24
Chloe Browne '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “I wish I would have known that test scores don’t matter as much as they used to. I was really stressed about taking the SAT, but then I didn’t end up submitting it to any of my schools. So it’s obviously important and you should try hard, but it’s not the end all be all.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A: “The most difficult part for me [since] I decided to go for cross country and track was balancing finding a good school for athletics, academics, and then also the financial part of it. Because we’re young, we don’t really have to think about money as much in a serious way, and so I really had to sit down and think about what my priorities were and if I wanted to spend a lot of money on certain things. The easiest part was that I committed in October, so I only had to do one application and so that definitely took off the pressure. And I kind of knew I was going to get in, so it was pretty nice.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A: “I would say do your essay in the summer, and do a lot of your applications as early as possible. Because once school starts, you just don’t have that much time. And I was lucky but I saw a lot of friends struggle with the time, so do it early. And also don’t stress too much about whether you get in or not. Obviously, you want to get into your schools but at the end of the day, there are so many schools that will probably work and just because you want to go to a certain place, if you don’t get in, that doesn’t mean you’re going to hate the school you end up going to.”

Calvin Warner 24
Calvin Warner '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “I wish I had known how important it is to budget time for important forms such as the CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile that took way longer than expected. And I really wish I had known what that was going to be like beforehand.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A: “I would say that the easiest part of the college application process was definitely getting in contact with college admissions counselors. They’re very open and willing to help you if you have any questions. The hardest part for me personally was keeping track of all the specific deadlines. Each college may have a different deadline for the CSS Profile, or the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or other important forms. And it’s very important to keep track of those deadlines. They’re not always in the clearest spots either.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A: “Doing your Common App essay in the summer before heading into school, because the schoolwork doesn’t really let up either in the first semester. So it’s important to give yourself time to complete the whole process to the best of your ability.”

Kairaluchi Odenigbo 24
Kairaluchi Odenigbo '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “I think that getting one rejection doesn’t mean your whole application process is done. Personally, I messed up on a few of my applications. And you know, never lose hope because I still got into the schools that I messed up on the applications for. Never count yourself as the underdog, always believe. And essays and supplementals really carry you.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A:“The easiest part was probably signing up for the Common App; the hardest part, writing the essay, had a few sleepless nights about it, but at the end of the day, it all works out.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A: “Never count yourself out. Always remember that colleges are always looking for different things. So just because you don’t get into one, doesn’t mean you won’t get into another. And, stay positive. I know it’s hard to compare yourself but try and focus on yourself and what path you want to take in life, and you’ll be successful no matter what.”

Nico Taylor 24
Nico Taylor '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “I wish I knew that there are schools outside of Pennsylvania. I know it sounds dumb, but that’s really all I looked at. And yeah, I kind of wish that I knew that there were ways to rank schools and research them more efficiently than I did.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A: “I think the hardest part is easy to say [was] probably the essay, or probably researching schools. They’re kind of tied up there. Because they just take a lot of time and are thought to be perfect especially the essay. All the supplementals—you cannot forget about the supplementals. They take a lot of time and effort to do, so it was probably the hardest part. There was no easy part, really. I think it was just kind of putting in your information. That’s the easy part.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A: “I’d say my advice is get started on making your Common App ID, or the other one’s called Coalition or something like that. Make your ID as soon as you can. Start that essay, your personal essay, as soon as you can, because it really does take a lot of thought.”

Paige Trout 24
Paige Trout '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “That once you submit your college applications you’re not actually done. You still have to do all the scholarships, and all the other stuff that comes with it, like financial aid, scholarships, filling out your portals, getting in contact with schools. Like, once you think you’re done, you’re never done.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A: “The easiest part for me was honestly just staying on track and submitting my schools because I submitted them all in August and September. So I was done, or at least I thought I was done. But then it was relaxing and I was really relaxed, and I was able to focus on school. And then I got back my college acceptances really fast. I got them all back by January, and now I already know where I’m going to school.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A: “Get it all done in the summer. I’m telling you, it was the best thing ever, like the relief was crazy. And I am so happy I pushed myself to get my essay done in the summer. And to fill out the Common App before it actually opens in August. If you do all that and just break away at it hour by hour, it makes it so much easier. And then once you’re done, you’re done and everyone else is struggling, and it’s really sad to watch your friends struggle, but it’s kind of funny.”

Mateo Moreno 24
Mateo Moreno '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “I wish I knew more about the deadlines because I was aware of some of them, but there were a lot of schools that I actually liked that I wasn’t able to do early action because I missed a deadline or because I didn’t really know, so I kind of wish I was more aware of all the deadlines, whether it be early action or early decision.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A: “The most difficult part was probably finding the time to do it because it’s very lengthy. So I wanted to find a time that was a good time to do it if I wasn’t doing much that day. But the easiest part was probably knowing what I liked. So when they asked questions for essays about what would you like, what your interests are, and what do you like doing, I found that pretty easy, because when it’s stuff I like writing about, I can very easily get into it.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A: “The advice I would have is just try and open your opportunities as big as possible. Open up your school [options] and open up any majors you’re interested in. There’s a lot of great schools out there, there’s a lot of great majors. So I recommend that you kind of go in with an open mind, and you have a lot of colleges that you can apply to and have a lot of majors. Just be very open-minded.”

Jordana Jasner 24
Jordana Jasner '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “One thing that I wish I had known before beginning the process is don’t expect anything because there’s a lot of factors that play into it. And especially with the Early Action round there are a lot of deferrals, and it can feel defeated when it comes back. There’s still hope, and there’s still other ways to get accepted. So I would just say don’t get your hopes down.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A: “I think the most difficult part was just managing my time and writing my supplementals. Personally, I applied to a lot of schools, and a lot of them had around the same due dates and on top of all the work that I was already receiving, it was a lot to manage. The easiest part was probably asking teachers for recommendation letters, I enjoyed asking them.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A: “I’d say my advice is get started on making your Com“My advice would be to start early because you can actually open up a Common App as a junior and fill it out, and it’ll transfer your senior year. I think that’s really helpful. Start writing your Common App this summer because once school comes, you’re gonna have a lot to do with your schoolwork and supplementals. So the earlier you start, the better it’ll go.”

Aiden Gold 24
Aiden Gold '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “I wish that I knew when the process would be over because I only submitted five applications. But then I kept doing supplementals until I heard back from a few of those schools, and one of [them] was my top choice. So I wish that I knew that I was done when I was done. So I didn’t have to, you know, keep stressing out about it before I finished.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? What did you find to be the easiest part?

A: “The easiest part was the relief after I got it in. And I know that’s the end of the process, but it still felt amazing to just be done with getting them in, and being done with the whole process, with the proofreading, and with the writing. The hardest part was definitely the Common App essay because every single draft that I wrote, I was not happy with. I think it was seven or eight before I inevitably submitted it.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors?

A:  “Don’t only look at [only] the schools, also look at both their grading systems and their scheduling systems, because there’s a lot of schools that do it differently, like a trimester schedule, which is slightly faster paced, or even weird GPA based grading systems. I looked at a few schools that I decided not to apply to because of those.”*

Casey Conway 24
Casey Conway '24

Casey Conway ‘24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

A: “I wish I had known more about the rough timeline of when things were supposed to be in. I feel like it was kind of unclear how to use all the different sites. There’s Naviance, and then there's the Common App, and I feel like there's just a lot of moving pieces. I'm the oldest so my family didn't really know how to work any of it either. So I feel like we were all just kind of in it together. I wish I'd known more about specifics like that.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? The easiest part? 

A: “I think the most difficult part was just how overwhelming it all seemed at the beginning. I feel like at the very beginning of the process, there's so many schools, and I felt like I didn't know anything, so it was just so overwhelming. But then I think the easiest part was once I had found my schools and narrowed it down to the six or seven that I applied to, then just being able to fill in those applications and write my supplementals and my essay and that stuff where it's a little more straightforward. And you know what you're supposed to be doing.”

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors? 

A: “I think the most helpful thing that I did was finishing and working on my essay over the summer. I had my Common App essay finished before I went back to school, which just made it a lot less stressful. I was able to focus on other things in my application without having to worry about my essay.” 

Fiona ORourke 24
Fiona O'Rourke '24

Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before beginning the college process?

“Probably just to remember to be patient. It's a really long process, and there's a lot you have to do. And you just have to remember it takes time, but it'll all work out.”

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult part? The easiest part? 

“The most difficult part for me was thinking of what to write for my Common App essay just because there's so many different ways you can take it, and it's hard to know what colleges are looking for. The easiest part was probably figuring out what I liked in colleges when visiting and thinking of if I liked a bigger or smaller campus and stuff like that.” 

Q: What advice do you have for rising seniors? 

“My advice would be to start researching colleges really early and going on a lot of visits to schools that you might be interested in because it helps you see things that you might not be able to see online if you see it in person.”

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