2020 Seniors Persevere Through Unprecedented Application Process

With no in-person visits, deciding on a school becomes much more challenging.

Kate Solomon, Editorial Managing Editor

Applying to colleges is always a stressful time for seniors, no matter the year. However, the college process has been extremely difficult and taxing for the class of 2021 due to the global pandemic. The CoronaVirus has made their experience unique and most definitely one to remember.

Chris Rivera (‘21), says that the college process for him so far has been, “quite difficult.” He explains that many members of the senior class are overwhelmed by going from doing almost no work since March, to getting blasted with college applications and assignments from teachers. Rivera highlights that the class of 2021 is going through an application process that no other generation has ever gone through which obviously creates a tremendous amount of anxiety. Calle Harwin (‘21) is going through very similar experiences as Rivera. When asked what the college process has been like for her so far, Harwin describes that juggling school work, ten writing supplements, and her CommonApp essay has been especially tough. She says that this experience has put an absurd amount of pressure on her and her classmates in that it feels like a competition which is really stressful. While Harwin is confident that she will turn all of her applications in by November 1st, she believes that the anxiety of the process will not go away anytime soon.

When the pandemic hit last March, many of the seniors weren’t expecting it to impact their college admissions process. However, Rivera explains that due to COVID-19, he was unable to tour a majority of his schools. A major part of the college process is finding a campus that you can envision yourself walking through every day. Rivera claims that finding a college via virtual tour has made the experience, “ten times more difficult than it needed to be.” He goes on to say, “You want to see the students walking around the various packed classrooms, the sun-filled quad, etc.  But the virtual tours didn’t fulfill those needs or the visions that Rivera needed in order to see himself at a college. River also talks about how virtual learning caused him to become “unmotivated and drained every single day.” “There was always a feeling of uncertainty,” he describes.

Harwin’s experience also had a negative impact by the pandemic. As a junior, many people take the ACT and SAT’s, however most of the senior class was unable to take the standardized tests this year due to the cancellations. Harwin’s tests have been cancelled four times, causing her to leave that section of the CommonApp blank. Even though many colleges have gone test optional due to this, Harwin still worries that with many of the school’s just dropping test requirements now, that they will not be fully test optional. Harwin has also had troubles seeing herself at a college due to the virtual tours. She describes that after two or three virtual tours, she “gave up” as “almost every college sounded the same.” While virtual tours helped Harwin get a grasp of what the college experience was like, she claims that it didn’t hold a candle to touring in-person.

Mr. Cuddy, a guidance counselor at the school, has seen first hand how the virus has impacted seniors that their college process so far. He claims that there is so much uncertainty that nobody has answers to many of the questions being asked. He says that, while the process is normally very stressful, “it’s only been harder this year.” Cuddy also highlights how students not being able to visit their school’s in person has made these past couple of months even more difficult for seniors be- cause they aren’t 100 percent sure on where they want to and where they could see themselves thriving. As a guidance counselor during these times, Cuddy has a huge role in helping many of these panicked seniors. While he is trying his best to answer questions, he found that many of the guidance counselors including himself have often had to say “I don’t know.” He highlights that “some parts of this process are out of our control as students, counselors and parents. As long as we do our best with the information we have at the time, we can trust that everything will work out.”

As the application process winds down and deadlines approach, many seniors are more stressed than ever. It is important to know that everything will work out and every one will end up where they are supposed to be.