Adjusting the College Application Mentality


Leyah Eagar

Teachers and staff members at UHS are always available to give some advice on college applications, majors, and beyond!

Anya Behrns, Staff Writer

For most of the graduating class of 2023, their final year of high school also marks the beginning of the college application process. UHS is notorious for its rigorous academic culture, and some students find that this external expectation of success brings an increased level of stress to the college application process.

“There’s so much I know I should do, but it feels like nothing I do is good enough,” senior Jay Yoo said. “My essays need to be more polished, show more personality, pander more to the holistic application process that all the colleges are lauding now . . . The thought of failing and not getting into college and disappointing everyone and the sheer speed at which everything is happening is so daunting.”

Other students share Yoo’s sentiments. The prospect of college is daunting to many, bringing new experiences and pressures into the picture. A survey of 165,000 high school students conducted by YouthTruth found that 55% of students are not confident in their college and career readiness.

Considering that the majority of American students don’t feel prepared for college, it is not shocking that many UHS students approach their applications with a sense of apprehension.

In response to these student concerns, drama teacher Miss Ranae Bettger argues that complete preparation is not always what is needed or wanted by colleges, especially for those pursuing the arts. 

“[Colleges] are less able to require prior knowledge because states don’t all offer arts education PK-12,” Miss Bettger said. “Soft skills [and] . . . artists who know how to think and solve problems—[colleges] plan to build all the content knowledge.”

A fact students tend to forget amidst the pressure is that colleges are at their core educational institutions that exist to expand a person’s skill sets. They are not expecting to receive masters in their given crafts, nor are they expecting a roster fully confident in what they want to do with their futures. 

“Most adults have five careers in their lifetimes,” Miss Bettger said.  “Many times, [the careers] are not connected to what they majored in in college. Follow your heart and be willing to accept when what you want changes.” 

Even for the 45% who do feel ready for their college applications, the looming worry of acceptance follows many. A 2019 Washington Post survey reported that 66% of accepted students claimed to have felt “often or always worried about being accepted in their chosen college.” With admission rates lowering, college acceptance does not feel like a guarantee to many. 

“I don’t think [the stress is] warranted to the extent students feel it,” English teacher Mrs. Susanne Fitzpatrick said. “To be really honest, everybody finds a home and some people don’t find the home they thought they were going to, but they ultimately end up happier knowing that they found a place where they are really wanted and most people will find themselves comfortable with where they go.”

One of the greatest hindrances to a student’s own application process is their own expectations, self-imposed pressures and misconceptions muddling what colleges want from them, especially during the essay writing process. According to Mrs. Fitzpatrick, one of the most significant misconceptions is regarding the pressure students put on their admission essay writing, believing that their reader is going to pick it apart.

“In some ways I think it can take some stress off to know that the reader only has a couple of minutes to read and get the whole impression,” Mrs. Fitzpatrick said. 

When asked for what she wishes students would keep in mind most when getting their college applications ready, Mrs. Fitzpatrick stated that she wishes rejection could be taken less personally. 

“I think students take it so personally and they start to imagine what they could’ve done more,” Mrs. Fitzpatrick said. “You’re not being rejected. [Admissions Officers] simply don’t know you well enough to.” 

It’s hard not to take rejection to heart, especially when it concerns your future. However lost, confused or anxious you are about the college application process, the teachers and counselors present on campus are always available to help break it down.