To most seniors, fall means only one thing: college applications. Most early admission applications are due on the first of November, so by now, seniors have had time to reflect on their experiences applying to their dream colleges.
“My college application process was not as stressful as compared to other students because I knew exactly where I wanted to apply and whether or not I’d need an additional essay. It took me about one month to finish all parts of the applications because I was waiting on my physics teacher for a letter of recommendation,” senior Saeeda Noor said.
Noor applied to Loyola University, UIC, DePaul, Marquette, Michigan State, Elmhurst College, Bradley University, North Park University and Northwestern. With all these applications, Noor credits being organized and proactive for a minimally-stressful experience. To her, the most stressful part was compiling each piece and following up with teachers for letters of recommendation.
Senior Maram Mustafa had slightly different thoughts about the process.
“My college application process was time consuming. I really wanted all my applications to be perfect and was worried I would leave out something by accident and ruin my applications,” Mustafa said.
Mustafa isn’t sure whether completing the applications or waiting for a response is the stressful aspect. Another stressful part for her was making sure she answered each question to the fullest.
According to senior Katarina Kraljevic, the applications themselves weren’t hard, but being constantly asked where she was applying to was stressful.
“The college application process was difficult at first, but once you start the common application it’s pretty easy. Most schools are on the common application, but you have to go on specific college websites to apply for certain other schools. It didn’t take that long. The general questions on the common application took about 20 minutes,” Kraljevic said.
Kraljevic applied to DePaul, ISU, Marquette, and Iowa State.
“It was stressful at first because it’s something new that no one is used to, but after you get the hang of it, the only thing making it stressful is yourself,” Kraljevic said.
For senior Anthony Cimpean, applying to an American college was something new for his family.
“My college application process was a little hard. I’m the first kid to go to college in the states in my family, so it was a new experience for my parents and I,” Cimpean said.
Senior Andrea Limperatos also had an overall positive experience.
“My college application process went well. I already narrowed down the colleges I wanted to apply to so I just had to make the step and actually do them. I can’t really put an exact time for how long they took but it wasn’t a one day thing. The most time consuming thing from the whole application process was my personal essay,” Limperatos said.
Most seniors agree that the questions on the applications aren’t the difficult or stressful part, but the essays that are time consuming and demanding.
“The essays are very tricky because you’re attempting to describe yourself to admissions in the most effective way possible,” senior Michael Daratzis said.
For help on their applications, many seniors turned to their peers, family, tutors at the Lit Center, teachers and Mr. Gin in the college resource center.
“I received help from peers and my parents. Personally, I try to keep help at a minimum because at the end of the day, it’s my application. Having too many people read it could lead to a loss of personal value, so two to three sources for peer editing was sufficient,” Daratzis said.
Now that seniors fully understand how difficult college applications can be, they have some advice for current juniors.
“Use the summer before senior year to [your] advantage]. What I mean by this is starting to narrow down [your] list of colleges, taking college tours and making a rough draft of [your] personal essay. One thing that really helped me understand how the college application process worked was Mr. Gin’s workshop he held after the school year, which I highly recommend juniors to attend. The whole college application process is stressful, but if you prepare ahead of time it should be a breeze,” Limperatos said.
“My advice to juniors is to make a rough draft of their college essay second semester. We did a rough draft one of the last weeks of English my junior year and it helped so much. I wasn’t as worried during the summer. Ask for letters of recommendation before summer starts. A lot of teachers will already be booked to their max, so ask right away. Don’t wait until the last minute,” Kraljevic said.
“File the FAFSA as soon as it comes out,” Cimpean said.
Juniors – use this advice to the furthest extent possible. Seniors – good luck getting accepted into your dream universities.