Seniors prepare for college applications

Erika Ryan, Writer

Rushing to the office to check the computer, typing in the login information as fast as possible. The screen to the student’s Common App pops up while they move the cursor to check their application status for the University of Florida. Nerves of what the next screen will display builds up, until relief comes in all at once. They find out they have been accepted.

High school seniors encounter a plethora of responsibilities throughout the school year, one of which is deciding on their post-secondary plans. At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and several other schools across the country, a large percentage of students are in the stages of applying to college and preparing their college applications for either the spring or fall semesters of the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.

Among the multiple aspects of getting college applications completed, finalizing scores is not excluded. The SAT and ACT are standardized tests colleges use to assess college readiness and potential college success. In order for a student to gain entry into a college of their choosing, they must have a certain implied, but not required, score that will put them in the running to have their application considered.

“I have been preparing myself to take another SAT,” senior Marlo Perkins said. “I had completed and gotten my scores back on SATs I had taken before the school year started, [and] there are only two more scheduled before most of my college application deadlines.”

While going through the college applications, a series of questions are asked to obtain background information from students. Many applications include questions on personal information, academic history, activities and family history. These questions are a part of the process that goes through Common App and Coalition App, undergraduate college admission application portals used to apply to a variety of colleges and universities.

“I would have to ask my parents for some of the information, especially for the family tab, [like] where it asks for where and when your parents graduated and their occupations now,” senior Zachary Page said. “I didn’t expect the process to be like this, but I would say once you get the basic questions answered, the process goes faster.”

Several applications also have an essay portion in which students must respond to the given prompt(s). Many students often use this section of their application to share more about themselves that could not be portrayed from the general background questions.

“The essay, I feel, is the most important part of the college application, this is what makes or breaks your application, or at least that is what has been told to me,” senior Elaine Chen said. “I would go over essay prompts with a college advisor and write up my essay, then go over it multiple times to see how I can make it stronger.”

Students also use their essays to show their skills, such as whether they are well-rounded or not. Being able to share more in depth of what they have done throughout their high school experience establishes a stronger foundation for college admissions.

“Throughout my whole high school career, I always made sure I was doing something important and beneficial for my future. Not only do I want to look good for colleges, but I want to gain more experience to be able to succeed in whichever school I want to attend,” senior Julia Danois said. “I did more extracurriculars and joined different clubs and volunteered to gain more of that experience I need.”

The stress that occurs while going through these college application processes is a common occurrence for many seniors at MSD. Juggling this along with their last year of high school classes can become challenging for students, especially those taking Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses. Being able to prevail through the stress and feeling overwhelmed both play a big role in the application process.

“During this whole application process, I was definitely under a lot of stress, especially since I still had to focus on my AP classes and other work,” Perkins said. “I would reach out to my guidance counselor or my parents to help me through my application. After that it was pretty much smooth sailing from there.”

Students also face the pressure of getting into a college. Trying to satisfy themselves or their parents could put heavy pressure on students’ mental health.

“I always felt some sort of pressure to get into a good college,” senior Julia Danois said. “Not just from my parents but from myself too. My brother and sister went into good colleges once they graduated and I feel like I have to follow suit, not being the one who ruins that chain.”

By the beginning of the upcoming year, many MSD seniors will be done with their college applications. Alleviating most of their stress and heavy lifting, MSD seniors will be awaiting their results until mid-Spring.