(Kevin Chang / Los Angeles Times)
La Cañada High School

How students handle the college application process

As the new year picks up, seniors are starting to finally see the dim glimmering light at the end of the seemingly perpetual tunnel that is college application season. For some, finally submitting the last of their applications might be a massive relief, while for others it might only mark the beginning of the stress and anxiety that is to come: waiting, alumni interviews, senioritis, more waiting, all coupled with the challenges of virtual and socially-distanced learning. 

For many, if not most, students, the most difficult and nerve-wracking part of the process was writing the essays often required for applications, ranging from the personal statement to the UC’s “personal insight questions” to the classic much-maligned “Why [this college]?” supplement. 

“The hardest part was doing the soul-searching to find a topic to write a meaningful essay about my life,” senior Andrew Han said. “Luckily, I started writing my personal statement before the school year.”

As stressful as the applications alone might be, the schoolwork and added obstacles posed by the pandemic (most notably the issue of standardized testing cancellations) have only made things even more exhausting. 

“In terms of college applications, my stress levels are pretty high,” senior Dariya Paul said. “I started my essays over the summer, which definitely helped with the amount of work I had to do during the school year, but it was still pretty overwhelming. I was unable to take the ACT due to many cancellations, which got to be both very frustrating and a relief since I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I am finished with all of my apps now, but in my opinion, it is even more nerve racking waiting to hear back from schools.”

Concerning the pandemic’s effect on the admissions process, senior Ellaney Matarese also said the pandemic worsened the stress of applying to colleges.

“Especially with so many people deferring last year, acceptance rates are expected to go down to accommodate for that,” Matarese said. “I also think that for athletes hoping to compete in college the recruiting process has been a lot more difficult without competitions/games which made things more stressful for me, and also having to make a decision without being able to visit campuses.”

Though many seniors are currently dreading the next couple of weeks leading up to admission decisions, some take comfort in knowing that everything is out of their hands now. 

“If I’m being honest, I’m not anxious about college apps because it’s sort of like we’ve done everything to our max capability/effort for the past four years with all of the extracurriculars, test prep, clubs, and stuff so like now it’s just whether or not colleges want us,” senior Sudi Feng said. “And plus, even if we do get rejected, we still have to remember that something like over half of the applicants to schools we’re applying to are qualified to go there, it’s just that space is limited.”

Regardless of how stressful waiting for results to come out may be, everyone who has either finished or is nearing the end of their college applications has something to be proud of. Especially in the midst of a truly unprecedented year, looking and planning ahead for college is a giant step forward that’s worth celebrating.