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How are seniors dealing with college applications this year?

How are seniors dealing with college applications this year?

For seniors, the first semester is typically a whirlwind of stress, excitement, and uncertainty. After three years of persistent studying and dedication to extracurricular activities, students are tasked with forming a strong college application. Every year, this process becomes increasingly difficult as more students choose to submit applications. From 2019 to 2020, and 2021 to 2022, the number of applications has risen by 21.3% according to US News, thus causing college acceptance rates to plummet and competition to increase as students fight for spots at top institutions.

 At Hastings High School, seniors are currently navigating this set of challenges. 

As early as September, conversations about college echoed through the hallways. Students desperately asked friends where they were applying, attempting to evaluate their chances of getting into their top school. 

While some students have no problem sharing their college lists, others prefer to keep their applications private. One student stated: “Hearing where everyone else applied just adds more stress to this whole process, so I choose not to engage.” This is a common mindset for seniors, since they are competing with their peers during the application process.

Additionally, applying Early Decision to a school has become common for Hastings students. This application option can only be used for one college and is a binding decision, meaning the student is required to attend the school if they are admitted, except for in some cases due to financial reasons. Early Decision applicants are placed in a smaller pool, which often increases their chances of getting into the school. 

However, students who apply early are not guaranteed financial aid, limiting the opportunity for those relying on need based scholarships. 

During an interview with a group of Hastings seniors, one student reported feeling pressured to apply early and distinguish a “dream school.” Another student expressed, “All of my friends applied early somewhere, so I just kinda picked a school I liked, even though I had no idea where I wanted to go.” The pressure from peers sets an expectation for students to apply early. While this tool is useful for those who have their heart set on a school, a binding decision will not benefit those who are still unsure where they would like to go. 

In the next few weeks, seniors will start hearing back from colleges. Regardless if an acceptance or rejection letter appears in one’s inbox, it is important to take pride in the long hours spent on homework, after school practices, and club meetings. These accomplishments prepare students for whatever the future holds. 

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