Graphic by Tierney Kugel ’22
As colleges issue their letters of acceptance and rejection to the high school class of ’21, many seniors are seeing their hard work pay off. Staples students are committing to universities across the nation. Now that the college process is coming to a close, the class of 2021 can offer helpful insight to the rising seniors.
For many students, the worst aspect of the college process can be the stress of writing several supplemental essays, taking standardized tests and submitting everything before the dreaded application deadlines. However, an early start can ease this process, according to Mira Mahendru ’21, who will be attending Boston College next year.
“It wasn’t very stressful because I started preparing early,” Mahendru said. “I tried to get my testing done sophomore and junior year and started college writing over the summer, so I wasn’t stressed during senior fall. I managed the stress by trying to get things done early.”
Many students additionally struggle with deciding how many schools they should apply to. According to Chloe Chaple ’21, who will also be attending Boston College, it is important to achieve a balance among the schools one applies to.
“I applied to 11 schools, which I feel is a perfect number,” Chaple ’21 said. “Wasting your time applying to more than 15 schools spreads yourself too thin to a point where you’re unable to perfect your supplements and any less than like seven schools just doesn’t feel right because our grade has witnessed first-hand with COVID how unlucky the application process can be.”
While COVID-19 has changed the college process for many, seniors still emphasize the importance of touring schools. According to Gia Antonelli ’21, who will attend Northeastern University, touring is a helpful tool in determining if a school is a good fit.
“I would definitely suggest touring if possible because some schools that I was really considering I ended up really not liking once I visited,” Antonelli said. “I also think it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll be living there for four years, so you need to ask yourself if you would genuinely be happy there.”
Narrowing down a college list can be difficult when there are so many universities to choose from. However, according to Dylan Goodman ’21, who will be attending Harvard University, looking into a school’s specific programs and majors can be insightful.
“I think that visiting campus, talking to current and former students, finding a program specific to your wants and needs and making a pros and cons list can help in deciding between different schools,” Goodman said. “I found that doing research about the program and learning more about it from current students allowed me to picture myself as a student at the school and help me make my final decision.”
Another struggle that students face is determining whether or not Early Action and Early Decision applications are the best option for them. Matthew Ambrifi ’21 suggests that one should only apply Early Decision if they are certain in their choice.
“I recommend applying Early Action because it takes a lot of stress off your shoulders in the form of workload. Knowing you got an acceptance is the best, most relieving feeling,” Ambrifi, who will attend Tulane University, said. “I would only recommend applying Early Decision if you 100% know that you want to attend that school.”
Essays are one of the most critical aspects of the application. Having a strong essay can boost your chances of getting into a top school, despite test scores and GPA. According to Andie Bautista ’21, who will be attending the University of Southern California, it is best to write honestly about your interests.
“In terms of writing essays, write about topics that are genuinely interesting to you and that you are passionate about,” Bautista said. “Don’t write about something simply because you think that’s what colleges want to hear. Trust me, it will turn out better when you’re passionate about it.”
While many Staples families hire college advisors for their seniors, not all students have or need a college advisor. There are many resources online and within Staples that can guide students through the process of submitting a strong application.
“My most helpful tool was my guidance counselor,” Chaple said. “The guidance department is such an awesome tool because they’re able to help structure your application process, and since I didn’t have any outside help, I honestly don’t think I would’ve been nearly as successful without my counselor.”
Once the work is over and admissions decisions have been released, there is often conversation between friends, family and classmates about which schools students are getting accepted to. However, Hannah Even ’21, who will be attending Princeton University, believes that it is best to keep your college decision private.
“I would keep the colleges you get into to yourself so your decision is more your own,” Even said. “When you are deciding between colleges, everyone has an opinion and sometimes it’s really hard to separate their opinions from what you think is right for you.”
While the college process is stressful, and students may not always get the results they want, the university you attend doesn’t define your future.
“Stay true to yourself and who you are, and try not to let the noise around you or stress from others influence what it is you want for your future,” Goodman said. “Don’t be scared to aim high and stay confident. College may seem like such a huge decision and next step, but it truly all works out no matter what and will pave a positive path for your future.”