Seniors’ Windy Road to College


Photo courtesy of Estelle Mengelberg.

Estelle Mengelberg, Reporter

As this current school year progresses into February, many Novato High seniors have submitted college applications and are eagerly waiting for acceptance letters. The period between the send-off and acceptance of applications is vastly different from the beginning of the year, when students were starting to explore the application process.

From the beginning of junior year to January of senior year, students applying to college cram in a lot of work to create impressive resumes for applications. 

Students often form meaningful connections with their teachers, and ask some of them for letters of recommendation. During the summer before senior year, students must also write essays for many schools that they are applying to. Some applications require up to six essays, while others require even more. It is a time of research and determination.

Many students also choose to take standardized tests, like the SAT and ACT. In previous years, most colleges and universities required students to submit SAT/ACT scores in order to be admitted. However, about two-thirds of colleges and universities are test blind or test optional for the 2022 fall semester, due to the pandemic closing test sites. The lack of the standardized tests reduced the workload for 2022 seniors, and altered the experience for a high percentage of the Class of 2022. 

After the students have completed these tasks, they are ready to submit their applications. However, once the application is submitted, the process isn’t done quite yet.

Students can tour colleges to help make better decisions about the schools they plan to attend. They can tour the schools at any time, either before or after they have been accepted. Students don’t even need to be seniors to tour.

Senior McKenna Baldwin shared her experience.

“I have visited three colleges over the summer of 2021. The schools in California are easy to visit. I haven’t toured [a college] all the way up in Washington near the border of Canada, and I wanted to wait until I got accepted into that school to commit to going all the way up just to tour,” she said.

Between the application’s submission and acceptance, colleges can still contact students for additional determining elements of their admission. 

The University of California has stated that they would select applicants at random to verify the legitimacy of their activities they submitted.

Some schools also have auditions and interviews after applications have been received. These interviews can be optional, though highly-encouraged to take, while others are required for specific majors or schools. 

Senior Rustin Barth, an applicant to some performing art schools, described his experience.

“I’ve been called for auditions for singing schools, and I have a couple auditions scheduled for [February],” he said. 

After the ACT/SAT, the essays, the application submissions, and the interviews, seniors are left in the waiting game. The rest of their journey is focused on getting accepted into schools, which might not happen until April.

The anticipation and uncertainty for such a life-changing decision can cause stress and anxiety. Many seniors have high expectations for their future colleges, yet there is no guarantee they will get into their desired school. 

It takes about three months for colleges to get back to their applicants, though this can be extended if a student is waitlisted or deferred from early action/decision. Early action is an option where students can submit their application early and early decision is a binding decision that students will commit to the college if they get accepted. On top of stress, this waiting period and the end of high school can cause extreme burnout, humorously dubbed senioritis

When most seniors have finished their applications and are ready to go to college, they are still expected to submit high-quality work in their classes. On top of that, some students have already committed to their schools.

Senior Christopher Perazzo explains this dilemma.

“Unfortunately, because I’m already committed to Chapman University, it makes every assignment feel useless and I’ve been having trouble finding motivation to do them. Nonetheless, I’ve been trying my best to stay with it regardless of my senioritis,” he said.

Most seniors are ready to leave high school and still need to pass their classes, but there isn’t as much incentive to excel. Teachers don’t simply reduce the workload because of senioritis.

Seniors have faced many challenges during their higher-learning preparations and they remain on the unique path to finishing high school.