Seniors look back on college admissions process

Senior+Shreya+Rajkumar+checks+her+application+status+for+a+college+during+homeroom.

Photo by Hannah Rah

Senior Shreya Rajkumar checks her application status for a college during homeroom.

As universities close out their Regular Decision application rounds in early January, seniors have begun to reflect on their experience with the college admissions process. Amid the pandemic and the transition back to in-person learning, this year has been an unconventional time to apply to college. 

The overall process was overwhelming at times, especially trying to write all the essays for colleges. Writing the essays was the most difficult part because I wrote about four to five different essays before I could finalize one Common App essay.”

— Shreya Rajkumar

Students said they found college admissions to be overwhelming overall due to the workload associated with the process. Most students apply to universities through the Common Application platform, which requires applicants to write a personal essay that is sent to every school a student applies to. In addition to this, colleges commonly require students to write one or more supplemental essays specific to the school. Because most students apply to a variety of universities, the workload can accumulate quickly. “The overall process was overwhelming at times, especially trying to write all the essays for colleges. Writing the essays was the most difficult part because I wrote about four to five different essays before I could finalize one Common App essay,” senior Shreya Rajkumar said. 

Managing college application deadlines and transitioning back to the in-person school workload posed a challenge for seniors. “[Application] deadlines tend to be tough. I had to take some schools off of my list because of it, including Catholic University. I didn’t apply because the deadline was too close and I had a quiz and a test to study for. It was sad to take out those schools,” senior Ally Ramirez said. 

When locating a balance between college applications and schoolwork, students found time management to be key. “I found it challenging to balance the workload of school and college applications. I took time out of my weekend, so on Fridays, I would work on everything I needed to get done and then work on my applications on Saturday and Sunday,” Ramirez said.

Applying to colleges amid a pandemic altered the opportunities available to seniors this year. For instance, Rajkumar said she found difficulty in conveying their extracurricular involvement to universities after experiencing limited opportunities for participation due to safety restrictions. “When I was writing about my achievements, volunteering, and other extracurricular experiences, it was a lot more difficult because I wasn’t able to do many things in the past two years due to COVID,” Rajkumar said. 

Seniors also missed out on the opportunity to tour schools in person, as the majority of colleges only provided virtual tours and information sessions this year. However, Ramirez found that she preferred this online format. “It was fine having the virtual option because I’m a pretty busy person so it kind of helps to be able to be watching the tour and learning about the school while studying and doing homework at the same time. But, it can be helpful to actually visit the school to see if I can see myself at the school,” Ramirez said.

Students are already beginning to hear back from colleges. “I have gotten back from one school I applied to so far. I got into UMBC with a full ride. I am excited about every school I applied to so getting back from any of them is exciting,” senior Eric Jo said.