We are now in the wake of November 1st, and if you don’t know what that means you’re lucky. High school seniors, do you pick up what we’re putting down? Well, if you still don’t get it, we’ll be clear. November 1st was the early action deadline for a number of colleges, and its probable that many seniors are running on only a few hours of sleep right now. With the stress of the college application process, the beginning of senior year is difficult enough. But if you factor in all the school work and the pressure to impress with your term one grades, you’re in for a nightmare.
Beyond the stresses of applying to college, creating the application itself is no simple task. Students must pick apart every aspect of their lives for detailed information to answer their application questions. They have to ask at least one—but often more—teachers for recommendations at least four weeks before their deadline. They’re required to write a 650 word essay that might determine the course of their life, as well as detailed and well-researched supplemental essays for each school. The students are required to take the SAT or ACT, usually more than once, and then jump through each testing organization’s hoops for the colleges to even receive them.
Every step of the process costs money. Sending the SAT and ACT are both $12 per school. Most schools charge a roughly $50 application fee. Another $3 per school to mail transcripts. Some schools will increase your likelihood of admission depending on ‘demonstrated interest,’ or how many times you visit, which could increase your price a great deal.
Seniors already have to deal with the immense requirements of college applications, but in addition, we also have to manage our school work as well. According to the Atlantic, which surveyed 128 students and members of a school’s faculty, 9 percent of students reported feeling “a great deal of stress” on a daily basis. Half reported doing three or more hours of homework per night, and 26 percent noted that they had been diagnosed with depression—over four times the national average of 6 percent. At the end of junior year, AHS seniors were advised to take challenging classes for our final year of high school as it’s the best way to show how prepared one is for college. But, there is a huge downside to that. Seniors are already stressed, but on top of that, they are required to give their attention to their classes in order for them to succeed and get a good grade. In addition, many of the seniors are applying by the early action and early decision deadline, which coincidentally lands right around the time the first term ends. It’s a strongly held opinion amongst student that teachers assign more homework, quizzes, and test as the term comes to end, so imagine the increasing pile of stress that each student faces.
With the sudden avalanche of college applications and school work, seniors have the hardest first term of their academic career. Even though the College Application process is a pain, it is necessary for us to achieve our next level of schooling. There are, however, many changes that can be made to stunt the stress and confusion of first term senior year. First, the administration could loosen the reins on seniors. Managing your time is an important skill, but eight hours of school, two hours of clubs or sports, four hours of AP homework, four hours for other homework, two hours for another draft of our college essay, and nine hours of sleep is twenty-nine hours a day, which is, in fact, impossible. Not even the best time manager can create five more hours per day. Less homework from teachers or a few days off from practice could go a long way. At the moment, seniors are cutting back on the only thing they can: sleep, which is another problem altogether. Starting earlier might help too. If some H-Blocks in last term of junior year were devoted to college essays, applications, and searches, the load during senior year would be considerably lessened.
There are many things the AHS administration can do to help seniors through this stressful time. If high school is meant to prepare us for college, then no student should miss deadlines due to excessive work from their senior classes.