By Faith Oak
With the first round of early applications due November 1 and the next deadline on November 15, college application season has officially arrived. California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) applications are also open and due November 30, and as a result, many seniors are feeling the full pressure of their final year of high school.
Since the end of junior year, emails from college representatives have flooded seniors’ inboxes with reminders to apply, each attempting to stand out from the rest with eye-catching banners and links to their official websites and virtual campus tours. Now, however, there is a general sense of urgency that comes with that constant influx of emails; the seemingly minor decisions of which emails to send straight to trash and which to open only add to the stress.
While the imminence of an uncertain future is burdensome, the pressure of choosing a college is not a new phenomenon; over the years, a number of resources have been made available to students in order to enable better informed decisions when the time comes.
Most colleges offer year-round, on-campus tours that are led by current or former students. Oftentimes, these tours, which last for about an hour, are the best way to get to know a campus beyond what its brochures and website offer. They give students the opportunity to witness first-hand the student life on that campus, as well as to ask any personal questions about the school. Campus visits can provide the most useful material in creating a college list, even when the school is not one the visitor plans to apply to.
For students with a college in mind that isn’t easily accessible for campus visits, our school’s college office offers many weekly opportunities for college representatives and admissions officers to come in and speak about their colleges, from student life to the admissions process. Attendees also have the opportunity to ask these representatives any questions they have about the application, individual majors, or anything else that can’t be answered by the school’s website. Sometimes this is the closest way to get a feel for a college far from home.
Many websites and organizations also exist specifically to address the questions of concerned students and parents. Websites such as College Confidential and College Greenlight have risen in popularity among those new to the college process, creating a forum for people who have gone through similar experiences to share advice.
Despite any information that resources such as these may provide, many students still find it difficult to know what they are looking for in a school without personally experiencing the school itself.
For many seniors currently involved in the application process, these next couple of months will be the last chance to visit and explore different college options before finalizing their college lists. There is no way for us to truly know how the decisions we make will impact the next four years of our lives. However, the resources available to us should help to ease the stress of the process.