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  • Writer's pictureHana-Lei Ji

Keeping Up with the Class of 2021: Application Edition

With the early application deadline fast approaching (and passing this last Sunday), seniors struggle to keep up with their college essays, class assignments, and extracurriculars. This year has taught us to expect the unexpected; however, Jamie Saito describes COVID-19 as “a nice little spice to senior year” on top of everything else. Last Sunday, many seniors sent out their first round of applications. As we fight against the November deadlines, some seniors give up a few minutes of their precious time to share what the application process is really like.

As every admissions counselor will tell you, your college essay is an integral part of your application. Greg Parks points out that the most difficult part of writing this essay was “coming up with an idea that feels worthy of being a college essay...I feel like it’s such an important part of an application to describe who you are.” Many other seniors agree with this sentiment that choosing a topic was the most challenging. Mele Rickards and Zoe Spikerman emphasize the struggle of having to convey such an important idea in under 650 words, especially when there are a lot of topics they want to talk about. Ethan Smith asks “what is a college essay?” to describe the struggle of writing what the admissions officer likes to hear. Another issue seniors face is “emotionally reconciling” with difficult concepts in their life. While you aren't required to confront any hardships, Ms. Smith once described the college essay writing process as the first time many students will write and analyze these difficult experiences.

We often hope that our parents can be helpful guides during this time. Here are some ways parents are supporting the seniors:

  • “With financial stuff. [Though] none of them have ever went to college...they tell me they will help me financially” - Rachel

  • “My mom just looks through the pamphlets and looks if there are attractive people” - Eloise

  • “My mom looks at where it is on the map and says no or yes.” - Jamie

  • “They had a spreadsheet with all college information” - Ethan

In the rush to fill out applications, it is important to acknowledge our stress levels. The class of 2021 jokes that they just aren’t managing stress at all. Common phrases that were brought up were denial, ignoring, and no❤️️ to sum up our senior stress management. While many tell the precautionary tale to take care of your mental health first, I would argue that the Class of 2021 feels that it is not the main objective of senior year.

Jamie describes herself as “a little stressed, not going to lie.” As we start to realize the myth of senioritis, many other seniors such as Logan Richards, Greg Parks, and Katiana LaLonde, put it simply that they are handling stress “not well.”

Nevertheless, we find some ways to manage, or ignore, or stress for the time being. Some methods the seniors have used include:

  • Dinner Dates

  • Watching Curious George

  • Watching Community

  • Taking political compass tests

  • Sports

  • Going to Rachel for moral support

  • Crying

  • Sleeping

  • Knowing that we are almost there / it will be over soon

Going into senior year, Auntie Joanie was an amazing resource to prepare our college lists and applications. Rachel felt “pretty prepared” because of her meetings with Auntie Joanie and “started summer break knowing what [she] was supposed to do.” Other seniors rate their preparation on a range from 4 to 7, with 10 being the most prepared to 1 being the least. A couple of seniors admit to feeling unprepared before the year started, despite the information given to us. Some students, like Ethan, have older siblings, who familiarize them with the admission process, making it easier to know what steps to take next.

While the feelings of preparedness vary, we’ve been extremely lucky to have the faculty at Parker supporting us throughout the admissions process. Overall, the class of 2021 expresses their gratitude for Auntie Joanie and Ms. Smith for dedicating a majority of their time assisting the seniors and, as Eloise Robertson puts it, “helping with everything from essay writing to financial aid.” Rachel gives a “shout out to Mr. and Ms. Smith” for helping her with her college essay and encouraging her when she “lacks some self-esteem.” Ethan is lucky to have his dad as his main guide for writing essays but says he “still appreciate[s] Ms. Smith” because it helps to know there are many other teachers ready to assist you. For Zoe, Ms. Buscher has helped her throughout a scholarship application and gives important insights for submitting art portfolios.

As we struggle through our own college applications, many of us want to leave behind some pieces of advice.

“Think about what you want your last year to look like and make it happen.”

- Zoe Spikerman

“For future generations, 1. Don’t take AP Calc. 2. Don’t pack your senior year to show off to college admissions, in the end, it's just going to pile up plus you have college admission... It's not a breeze it's a tornado!”

- Rachel Pessah

"Why would you take all the other classes if you won't take AP Calc? AP Calc is the best though!"

- Dr. Hamilton

"It is what it is."

- Eloise Robertson

“It’s your admissions process. No matter what people tell you, whether to apply to a specific college, you don't have to if you don’t want to. If you want to apply, go apply because truly it's your life at the end of the day because no one else dictated it.”

- Greg Parks

“Don’t procrastinate. Ask for lots of help because the more talk to, the better your essay application will be and if you are not a junior or senior do a lot of extracurriculars and volunteerism because that’s what counts.”

- Jamie Saito

"Check deadlines. You never know if there is a deadline. For example, did you know regular application for UC is November 30? I didn't!"

- Graham Taylor

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