Seniors reflect on college applications


As early admission deadlines for select universities approach, some students are scrambling to complete their applications. Others have already applied and received acceptance letters, have not started applications, or do not plan to attend college. With such a variety of experiences, it is difficult to summarize the application process for all Howell High students. Even so, irritation and stress stemming from tasks such as composing essays and asking teachers for recommendations seem to be common for seniors who are applying, and it is easy to understand the frustration. Colleges typically require students to provide a plethora of information on their applications. Students need to supply information such as their name, address, high school, and extracurricular activities for each school they apply to.

“It was very repetitive. I felt like I had to write the same thing over and over again,”  Senior Riley McEntee says.

One way to streamline this process is to apply to schools that accept the Common Application. Over 400 independent colleges accept applications through the website. It effectively cuts down the amount of time it takes to apply to multiple schools. For students aiming to apply to more than one school, such as senior Bailey Uhl, the Common App can be a great resource.

“It [the Common App] was nice because I only had to write my personal information once,” Uhl says. “There were extra essays for each school, but I would’ve had to write them even if they weren’t on the Common App.”

A major source of anxiety for some students is college application essays. Several schools require applicants to complete at least one essay in response to a prompt the university chooses. The questions may ask applicants how they would contribute to the campus community, or why they chose to apply to that specific university. Some prompts may be more difficult than others, so it is important for students to check what essays the schools they are applying to require and set aside enough time to complete them. Students will also want to have time to revise their essay if necessary before submitting it.

“I would recommend that seniors ask their English teachers to read their essays and edit it,” Uhl says. “Have other people read your essay and give you suggestions.”

“Don’t put in any unnecessary information,” McEntee says. “They [colleges] don’t want fluff.”

Many seniors this year felt like they were not completely prepared for their college applications. They may have struggled with essays or the process of sending their transcripts off to different universities. Some students wish the high school had taken more time to explain the process earlier in the year.

Uhl says, “I thought the school could have given us information and forms for the teacher recommendation letters sooner.”

Howell High is certainly taking steps towards making the application process easier, however. For students who have questions about applying or who just need more time, Howell High School is giving students a chance during College Application Week, which begins October 26.

“We are giving a students the opportunity to apply during the school day,” guidance counselor Ms. Jennifer Starkey says. “We will offer them a computer lab with people to help. Students who have already applied can look at scholarship opportunities.”

In addition to College Application week, Howell High School is hosting a College Night on Oct 28. Representatives from colleges have also been visiting the school in the commons during lunch hours, and they will continue to answer questions from students throughout the month of October. Counselors hope these opportunities will simplify the college application process for students and allow them to complete their applications sooner.

“Senior year can be busy, so gettings applications done in the fall allows students to focus on scholarships later.” Ms. Starkey says.

“I think it [College Application Week] will be effective,”  senior Ira Smith says. “I think some people wouldn’t apply without it.”