Seniors finalize important decisions for future

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Sarah Firdaus, News Editor

With daunting dates and difficult decisions, senior year can be extremely challenging. Before closing the final chapter of their high school careers and transitioning into a college or university, seniors have to take required standardized tests and submit necessary applications by specific deadlines.

During September, seniors typically finalize college lists and speak to guidance counselors about schools they are interested in applying to. Counselors allow students the opportunity to ask questions about prospective colleges, learn about the college process and the necessary graduation requirements.

Most colleges and universities require recommendation letters, which seniors request from their teachers as soon as they possibly can, typically the spring before senior year. Those who haven’t taken the SAT or wish to retake it can also register for the exam in September and take it when it is administered in October or November.

At the beginning of October, seniors can begin filing the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which allows them to apply for financial aid for college. Throughout October they spend time working on college essays and gathering high school transcripts. Those applying early have to finish their applications as soon as possible to meet deadlines in November. Although different colleges and universities have separate applications due to dates and deadlines, they all request students submit their applications around the same time.

Schools like the University of South Carolina request early applicants submit their applications by Oct. 15. Students who apply early action, early decision or for priority consideration for in-state schools like the University of Maryland have to submit their applications around Nov. 1 and Nov. 15.

Seniors who apply early decision have to attend the school if admitted, while early action allows students to apply early to schools from whom they will receive an early response about their admittance without having to commit immediately. “It’s stressful because it means there is a lot suddenly due [but also] exciting because you feel so relieved once you submit an application,” senior Arnav Patra said.

Senior Fatima Ahmed spent weekends working on college applications to finish in time for the Nov. 1 deadline. Ahmed tried to work on part of her application every day to ensure that she finishes on time. “It was a crazy amount of work, but I put my mind to it, and I’m almost there,” Ahmed said.

Along with college applications seniors have to continue to maintain their grades throughout the year. In order to lessen her workload, senior Sunaina Sunda decided to work on her college applications before the school year started. “It’s best to finish at least rough drafts of your early schools’ essays over the summer,” Sunda said.

By December and January, a majority of seniors will have finalized their essays, requested and received teacher recommendations, submitted required test scores and are done applying to college. Seniors who opt for regular decision applications, for which they receive news of their admittance by a clearly stated date set by the university/college they are applying to, will have to submit their applications during this time. In addition, the students who applied early will receive responses during December and January from the schools they applied to in October and November.

Although the college process necessitates strict care and attention toward applications and deadlines, it allows students to obtain knowledge about what educational institutions seek in their students and find a school that will best help them achieve their future goals.