The class of ’23’s experience with college applications

Leslie Oh, Art Director

For the Senior Class of 2023, college applications are a long and unfamiliar process that has left nearly every senior stressed about the upcoming deadlines that will decide their futures with an acceptance or rejection. The long process of taking standardized tests, writing personal essays and supplementals, sending in transcripts, and using Common App comprises a draining couple of months. 

As the Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) deadline approaches, many seniors have been feeling the pressure of balancing college applications and their school work, something all seniors have gone through for years. For ED and EA applicants, the Nov. 1 deadline is drawing closer as students rush to submit applications. Seniors taking AP or honors classes and engaging in extracurricular activities have experienced further stress, as these additional commitments  reduce time to complete applications. 

Many seniors have encountered difficulties when completing applications, whether it be writing multiple essays, juggling both school work and deadlines, asking for teacher recommendations, or even starting the actual application. 

“I feel like I don’t have an outside perspective, and it’s hard to ask people to read things that are personal to you, so it’s hard to get outside opinions on writing and stuff,” Ric Cohen (’23) said. 

On the other end of the grueling application process, current college freshmen have been the most recent class who have gone through the application process. Current seniors may remember friends last year stressing about college applications and are now realizing exactly how last year’s seniors felt during this process. 

“It doesn’t matter,” Sophia Cheng (’22) said, reflecting on her application experience last year. “You’re going to end up where you need to be. Really don’t put too much emphasis on prestige. Find out what matters to you. I made a calculator for all of my colleges based on what I cared about. Then I’d rank all of my colleges based on where I thought they fell on a 1-10 scale for each category and weighted them, and turns out most of the prestigious colleges did not rank that highly.”

Teachers are well aware of the fact that the first semester is a stressful time for college preparation, and many have given seniors tips on how to further prepare. Some English teachers dedicate time in class to work on applications and give suggestions to students. AP Lang has an entire unit dedicated to writing college essays at the end of the year, a convenient time for juniors to start thinking about that particular style of writing and the topics they plan to write about.

“Think about why a university is asking you questions,” English teacher Marc Lebendig said. “For a lot of students, there are the prompts in Common App, but if you’re talking about supplementals, think about why this particular college wants you to answer this particular question. They obviously have some interest in your perspective that they don’t think is going to be covered anywhere elsewhere in your application. So I think if you take some time to think about why they’re asking this, that actually will give you a lot of insight about how to respond effectively.”

While submitting applications may be stressful, Madison provides a variety of support from our amazing team of counselors and teachers. On certain days after school (Nov. 9) and Warhawk Time (Nov. 2 and Nov. 16), Madison offers “App Lab,” a program dedicated solely on spending time for college apps and to ask questions about anything unfamiliar. 

“It’s definitely a challenge since I’m kind of having to navigate this new path that no one in my family had ever really charted before,” Genevieve Kopp (’23) said. “It’s exciting since I’m the first one, but also at the same time tough since I don’t have a precedent to sort of help gage my timing in terms of what is going to take the longest, what I can get done in half an hour, or what information I need to inquire about now to have available for when I need it. At the same time, though, it’s nice to not have anything to be compared to, so I can go at my own pace and really put in thought where I think it especially matters.”