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Academic Demands Compound Stress of Completing College Applications

Senior Sophie Porson (second from left) helps classmates Kate Snyder and Katie Brown study for a test while Morgan Paige finishes her college essays. Photo: Amy Butler

The months of October and November are an extremely busy time for seniors. The majority of seniors will apply to at least one school Early Action or Early Decision, with deadlines coming mid-October through early November. Although seniors are given two extra days of fall break to tour colleges and work on applications, most students still have to work on essays after fall break.

During my fall break, I visited two colleges to determine if I was interested enough to apply. During this period of long car rides and college tours, I did not have much time to work on my essays. This issue applied to many of my fellow classmates, including Cameron Perchik. She toured Johns Hopkins, Georgetown University and the University of Virginia all over fall break. Due to all of this traveling, she did not have much, if any, time to really make progress on her applications. Not only were there essays to complete, but also the typical homework, studying for tests and making up missed class notes for those seniors who take classes with underclassmen.

Many believe that students who verbally commit to a school for athletics are on a different track, and that they will automatically be accepted to that college. This notion is incorrect, in that the verbal commitment does not guarantee their acceptance. One student in particular, senior Ben Bernstein, recently decided to further his baseball career at Oberlin College. However, he still must complete two supplemental essays for Oberlin as well as refine his Common Application. Also, the extreme importance of his grades does not change. If he succumbs to senioritis and his grades fall below a certain point, then his scholarship will be in jeopardy.

Fall sports, Pace theater and numerous AP classes continue to add to the mounting stress of college applications. During the week of Oct. 23, the week before my biggest deadline, I had four tests as well as the normal amount of homework, papers and readings. During the time that I should have been perfecting my essays and meeting with the college counselors, I was preparing for my tests.

One of Paceโ€™s most recent developments is the emphasis on the mental health of students. I think that Pace has done well with this thus far; however, the rising stress levels, numerous hours of homework each night and little sleep are definitely eroding studentsโ€™ mental stability.

I believe that, at a minimum, the week before the Nov. 1 deadline should be more academically relaxed. It is not fair for students to have to choose whether to feel fully confident in their essays and applications or feel prepared for their tests and quizzes. That week is crucial for seniors so they should be able to focus mainly on college-related tasks.