Seniors, don’t let college stress overshadow your senior year


Illustration courtesy of Southern New Hampshire University

Justine Liu, staff writer

If there was one piece of advice my college friends kept telling me, it was “When it comes to your college essays, do not procrastinate.” Despite many of my friends and I agreeing to write our personal statement essays over the summer, most of us did not start before school began. With this advice echoing in my head, my scarce progress terrified me. 

I’ve always known that college admissions are competitive, but it did not hit me just how cut-throat they’ve gotten until this summer. At highly selective colleges, the acceptance rates significantly declined over the past few years. Northwestern University, for example, reports a 10 percent admittance rate drop from 2015 to 2022, from 18 percent to eight percent, The Daily Northwestern stated. I am in awe of my friends and family who were accepted into prestigious universities with astonishing accomplishments, yet now the same schools look for students with those accomplishments and even more. 

The college acceptance process is too mechanical yet too unpredictable at the same time. There is an updated “formula” each year of the perfect mixture of statistics and extracurriculars that will increase one’s chances of college admittance. There is even an expansion in private college consulting that can give a sense of disadvantage to the students that lack one. I have no doubt that having an extra pair of eyes on your essays will polish them up and alleviate stress. However, I also believe that at the end, when the remaining applicants are just as exceptional as the next, admissions become a lottery pick.

To say that I was overwhelmed the week before school started is an understatement. As the rush of activities started up again, I couldn’t help but think that I do not have enough extracurriculars on my activities list. I felt unproductive over the summer and unaccomplished in my high school career. 

Then, I realized that I was so busy stressing about college that I didn’t even have time to be excited about my senior year. 

Rising college standards are a challenge, and they are definitely something that shouldn’t be ignored. But if you let them form negative thoughts and overcast your senior year, then you are giving into the system we detest. Not to mention, there are millions of students going through the same process, so take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. 

As I continue to coax myself out of the negative mindset, this is what I remind myself of: enjoy the passage of time. Take pride in what you have done in your high school years. 

And don’t forget to enjoy your senior year.