Seniors share their experiences and advice for one of the most important times of the school year
November is a busy—and frankly, a bit stressful—time for this year’s seniors.
College applications are due, meaning all of the forms and essays that are pretty much supposed to summarize a senior’s entire existence are being submitted to institutions that boast of top-notch research opportunities with the most distinguished professors. Yet the ability to join such an accomplished staff and student body is only guaranteed through the basis of an application, submitted typically by November 1st for Early Action and Early Decision admissions for private colleges (January 1st for Regular Decision), and November 31st for University of California (UC) campuses.
Fancy terms, but the concept is relatively simple: the most important difference between Early Action and Early Decision is that the latter is binding, which means that once you are accepted, you are not allowed to accept a decision to any other college. However, there is a significant advantage in choosing to submit an early application, as Jacqueline Le (12) points out.
“I submitted early so that all my deadlines and supplements will be more spread out,” Le said, “but also because there’s a better chance of admission.”
Submitting early places students within a smaller pool of applicants, which almost always means a higher rate of admission. This is an important fact to note when applying to more competitive schools. Stanford, for example, has an early acceptance rate of 11.99 percent, which is 6 percent higher than its rate for regulars. However, there are also benefits to waiting just a bit longer before submitting your application.
“You don’t want to succumb to the peer pressure of other people turning their applications in early,” Dhiva Krishna (12) said. “You want to make your application good on your own time.”
Approaching deadlines institutes a kind of pressure, especially because of the lengthy nature of most applications. UCs, for example, require four essays of maximum 350 words each, while the Common Application for private colleges require a 650-word essay in addition to school-specific essays called supplements.
“Once you start your essay, there’s so much pressure in making it good,” Lily Au (12) said. “Just getting yourself to start them is the hardest part because of that.”
The journey of college applications can be quite overwhelming and confusing to go through alone with just your high school counselor to guide you, which is why hiring independent counselors is a choice that many juniors and seniors take. It is not always necessary to have one, though, as mentioned by Rohan Bharadwaj (12).
“You’ll have someone who has experience with applying to colleges, but at the same time, you can write your own essays,” Bharadwaj said. “I’d recommend it for a set period of time, but
once you figure out how the application process works, it’s not really necessary.”
As a whole, the amount of stress that college applications cause really boils down to time management.
“I feel like once you’ve mastered time management in junior year, you’ll be okay during college app season,” Purva Kapshikar (12) said. “So juniors, get your priorities straight. And finish your APUSH notes over the weekend.”