How Seniors Really Feel About College

By Renner Kwittken

By this point in the school year, many seniors have committed or are considering their options as to where to spend the next chapter of their life. In the senior class, there is a prevailing sense of nostalgia and nervous excitement. Seniors are noticing their “lasts” in high school and are thinking back on their four years with mixed emotions of fondness as well as longing. It is impossible for many to not feel some stress and anxiety regarding their future and if they are making the right decisions.

Students who got accepted into their early decision have already spent a long time thinking about their college. Most people have the preconceived notion that students who got in early decision would have no stress and would be the happiest they could be about their decision. For the most part, this is true. There are still, however, many lingering doubts going through these students’ minds; after all, it is a huge commitment to apply E.D. somewhere. Zoe Daniel, a senior who got into her school through E.D., explains that when choosing what school to apply E.D. to there is “a lot of pressure to make sure that I made the ‘perfect’ decision. Aside from being stressed about the actual acceptance, I was worried about finding schools that suited my particular intended major, and concerned with meeting all of the appropriate deadlines.” For many students, the binding aspect of an E.D. was too much commitment too early in the application process. Once a student has been accepted E.D., new fears replace the old ones. Katie Fernberg, another senior who go into her college through E.D., concisely summarizes this prevailing apprehension: “I’m leaving everything I’ve ever known to go to a city I’ve been to once… I formed a solid routine coming to school everyday for 4 years that it’s going to be weird to think that I’m never going to have to do that again.” For the most part, however, there is a sense of accomplishment and recognition; Katie explains that, “It’s a very nice feeling to be committed to a school. It’s like all the hard work that you just did for 4 years finally paid off and you feel this huge weight lifted off your shoulders.”

For many students, however, choosing a college remains a prevailing concern. Rolling decision responses in particular cause an extreme amount of stress for students. There’s always that worst case scenario lingering in the back of many seniors’ minds fearing getting rejected from all, or most, of the colleges they applied to. Unfortunately, some seniors experience something either like that or close to that. One such senior, Juliet Nash, went through a great ordeal regarding college acceptances and rejections. In her words, “nothing I expected to happen happened. I got rejected from six of the ten schools I applied to. A few of those six were colleges I considered safety schools.” Initially, she felt a large amount of disappointment and inferiority when receiving the rejections and forcing her decision making to be narrow. Instead of rolling over though, she began to reach out to feel more secure regarding her commitment. Very quickly, she began to feel “confidence that this school was the one I was always meant to go to. I did get rejected from my school’s honor program, which brought me another wave of discouragement and fear, but I remain a true believer that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ Yes, this was not the easiest or seemless series of events to say the least; but I only feel joy to be wearing UDel gear and finally say I am committed.” Many students experience a very similar amount of frustration. Almost all of these students find that when they eventually start reaching out to others, they discover people they genuinely enjoy and soon realize that they will have an amazing time at their college.

Many people understandably feel a large amount of anxiety towards the entire college process. There are a lot of aspects of the college process that, unfortunately, dehumanize the applicants and make students feel substandard compared to their peers. It is important to enter the college process with a healthy amount of realism and preparedness to handle rejection. Please don’t take away from this article that the college process is the worst thing in the world and there are no good aspects. First and foremost, especially at Byram Hills, nearly everyone does eventually go somewhere, and it is still an amazing opportunity to go anywhere at all for college. Most seniors will hold on to their anxieties about college and their commitment until they get there and discover that they are in the right place. Seniors will find their people at their college and eventually make a routine for themselves. Juliet, like many, emerged out of her trial a better person, “I was a clear example of the fact that the business of college does not have a formula of acceptance and nothing about their decisions are black and white. I also learned my capabilities of disappointment. I used to have a level of anticipatory anxiety solely based off of my ability to handle sadness. I can’t wait to experience new happiness and sadness in my life because now I know that I am stronger than I thought.” As a message to perturbed seniors and apprehensive Juniors, the college process will wear you down and test your will. However, amid all of the craziness, the anxiety, and the feelings of inadequacy, there is the inevitability of you eventually finding where you belong. Take it from Juliet, “if you lean on those you trust, everything will be just fine.”