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Decisions, Decisions: The Ups And Downs Of The College Admissions Process

The months of spring are usually a time of tranquility with animals awakening from hibernation, the blossoming of flowers, and new life beginning. But for high school seniors, it is a time of chaos. The spring period is when colleges finally release their admissions decisions to students after their applications have been sent in the […]

The months of spring are usually a time of tranquility with animals awakening from hibernation, the blossoming of flowers, and new life beginning. But for high school seniors, it is a time of chaos. The spring period is when colleges finally release their admissions decisions to students after their applications have been sent in the fall. COVID-19 has put the college admissions process through many changes for both counselors and students, but the 2021 seniors must persevere through stress to make a decision that will affect their future. 

CB College Counselor Ms. Melissa McClellan was put through a lot of difficult tasks this year in preparation for the admissions results. She and the rest of the counseling staff had to make the adjustment from in-person communication to online communication.

“We received more Schoology messages and emails this year because in the past we had a lot of drop-ins,” she said. “Overall, the amount of questions and communications between students was down, but the number of communications via technology was up because students couldn’t just walk in at break or lunch or ask questions walking around campus.”

In the past, seniors would often be seen leaving class early or skipping lunch to attend informational sessions held by college representatives. Ms. McCllelan says the switch of these visits to being virtual was a large revision of the process. 

“Usually the reps would come to campus and students would leave the classroom to meet with the reps face to face, and it gave myself and [fellow CB College Counselor] Mrs. Melarkey the opportunity to meet with them and get a business card,” Ms. McClellan says. “Both us and the students didn’t have the same type of connection as it would have been face to face.”

Ms. McClellan also adds that all of the college fairs this year were virtual as well. Although the process was not easy, seniors Chloe Decker (‘21), Faith Mucheru (‘21), and Nate Smith (‘21) were able to use the tools given to them by Ms. McClellan and her team to be successful in their college admissions process. 

This upcoming fall Chloe will be attending UC Berkeley, Faith will be attending UC Merced, and Nate will be attending the University of Colorado, Boulder. Despite their visible success, there were a lot of difficult assignments that came with their final decision. This year, colleges were not able to hold in person campus visits for prospective students. Many newly admitted students were either not able to see their college of choice at all or had to take a self-guided tour.

“Over spring break I was able to visit two of my top choices, which were UC Santa Cruz and UC Merced,” said Faith. 

“I was able to visit, but the ones that were not open I just drove around the campuses to get a good feel for them,” said Chloe. 

Nate was able to visit his top two choices of Boulder and UCLA, but found himself conflicted in the process with sports scheduling. 

“COVID limited the amount of time I had to visit schools I got into because my sports were pushed back and during the time I would have to quarantine if I went out of the state,” said Nate. “Because of this, I wasn’t able to visit all the schools I was accepted to and was forced to rule out a couple with virtual tours and research I did online about the college.”

College admissions comes with many joys. The moments of smiling or crying tears of joy as one opens an acceptance letter to a school that they applied to are truly unforgettable. However, life does not always go as planned and students must face their fear of rejection. 

“I received a lot of denials in the process and some of them stung a bit,” said Nate. “It just hurts when you work so hard and something doesn’t go quite as you planned it. I was encouraged, though, that I knew I would find the right place for me in the long run, even if it wasn’t a place I dreamed of going all along.”

“Of course I was discouraged, but I feel like just because one school doesn’t accept you it doesn’t mean you’re not a good student or a good athlete,” Chloe said. “You just move on and pick the best school.”

Faith had a different and more desirable college admissions period.

“Fortunately, I got into the majority of the schools I applied to and was waitlisted by one of my top choices,” she said. “As I did wait for my admissions letters to come in, I was very nervous, but did my best to remain optimistic throughout the entire process.”

As the Class of 2021 gets ready to take the graduation stage on May 15, the Class of 2022 must begin to prepare for their college application period in the fall. The current seniors wish to leave some advice for them to help their applications stand out amongst thousands.

“I think the key to my application standing out from others in this very competitive year was that I showed passion for the area I want to study,” said Nate. “I think this is what colleges look for mainly — they want to see someone taking an active step in pursuing whatever they are into, while still in high school, despite the limited resources they have.”

“A big thing was leadership,” Chloe said. “With my track team and school, being a leader helps a lot.”

“Although I worked really hard to get the grades I earned throughout high school, I believe what helped me stand out and distinguish myself from other applicants other than my grades was also my resilience, ambition, and leadership that I presented in my essays,” said Faith. “Ultimately, my biggest advice in trying to separate your application is to really discover your most defining attributes you consider yourself to be and incorporate them into writing on how someone like you will not only succeed in college, but the years after it.” 

CB will always be known for developing students into young men and women ready to flourish in their college environment. The Class of 2021 will embrace this challenge as they embark on their new journey in life.

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