College Applications: The Fear Factor

Alison Perkins, Online Editor

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Senior year is supposedly the best year of our high school careers.  With insane amounts of homework piled on top of Senior Project and trying to hold our part time jobs, we are expected to still find time to go to our final home games, dances, and all of the other final hurrahs before we scatter across the country.

  As more and more students apply to more and more schools, students in the top of their classes are just as scared as those at the bottom of the academic food chain. Students fill out more applications than necessary and write as many as 20 essays just to scramble to get into a college, because of the fear of rejection.

  According to UC Berkeley’s admission studies, their acceptance rates have dropped 9% in the past 9 years and is expected to continue to fall into the upcoming years.

  As juniors last year, we watched many close friends go through this process, seeing some of the smartest or most active seniors being denied acceptance. After being told not to get our hopes up about college because it was a sad spiral of disappointment, a sense of terror set in.

  College applications have shifted from being a review of intelligence and character to a test of how much anxiety and fear a 17 year-old can handle. We write essays we don’t even need to think about just in case there’s a chance it’ll help. We take the SAT and ACT an excessive amount of times just hoping to miraculously get a better score the next time—even though we all know it doesn’t actually measure your intelligence.

  We put ourselves through so much stress because we know that the rest of the nation is full of competition that we have to beat out if we want a chance to get an education. We are scared of people doing well; rather than cheering each other on, we see them as a threat to our own success, even though this isn’t entirely true.

  The college application process described in one word is terrifying. It is a vicious cycle of over applying to schools, decreasing the chances of every other teenager in the nation applying because we are potentially taking up spots at schools we don’t even want to go to. Still, we apply because we’re scared of not having a future after more than four years of doing everything in our power to ensure that we would get into college; wondering if we’ll ever make it out of Sonoma.