Seniors tackle college application season

Senior+Sydney+Behrens+works+on+her+college+application.

Photo courtesy Sydney Behrens

Senior Sydney Behrens works on her college application.

The first semester of senior year is full of life-altering decisions. Seniors must answer the question of what’s next after high school. For many, it will be the most significant decision they have made since beginning high school. With added challenges of the global pandemic, seniors are in the midst of the most stressful time of their school year. 

Deadlines for college applications vary from university to university. However, a large portion of schools have their early action deadline on Oct. 15, a date that has just passed. Approximately 33 percent of seniors here will choose the University of Maryland College Park as their home for the next four years if history repeats itself. Their early action deadline is Nov. 1.   

Students who have a dream school often apply early decision to said university. Early decision is a binding contract between a student and university. It promises the school that if you get in, you will attend. However, seniors this year are especially struggling with whether or not to apply early decision. COVID-19 has made it increasingly difficult for students to visit colleges in person, and most do not feel comfortable applying early decision to a school they have never seen in person. 

COVID-19 definitely affected testing the most because I had to go out of state to take the exam.”

— Sydney Behrens

The global pandemic has not just affected students visiting schools but also standardized testing needed to graduate and get into college. Due to the high number of COVID cases last school year, the ACT and SAT were often canceled or moved from Maryland to Virginia. Because of these obstacles, seniors are still taking the SAT and ACT. Select colleges have refrained from requiring ACT and SAT scores in response to the cancellation of the tests. However, certain universities, such as colleges in Florida, still require students to submit scores. “COVID-19 definitely affected testing the most because I had to go out of state to take the exam [ACT],” senior Sydney Behrens said. 

The removal of the ACT and SAT requirement has forced colleges to rely heavier on students’ grades. If they get deferred or waitlisted, seniors’ first semester grades are reported back to the university they apply to. 

Select student athletes here have been given the chance to pursue their sports at the next level. To play in college, said students must participate in recruiting events and fill out an application to the college they want to attend. College coaches attend high school games as well as invite students out to ID camps. Senior Adalyn Gully is being recruited to play Division I soccer in college and has had to learn to balance school with soccer. “It can be really stressful but also exciting having schools interested in me. It’s hard to travel a lot for camps and visits while keeping up with school, but it’ll all be worth it in the end,” Gully said. 

Despite the stressors of application season, applying to college is an exciting milestone for seniors to reach. Senior Dylan Safai, who is applying to 15 schools, has primarily been enjoying the application process. “The [college application] process has been a lot of fun, especially the researching into schools all over the world,” Safai said.