The College Crusade
By Dharma Bartram
After four years of preparation and a fall semester full of applications, the time of year has arrived when many seniors will choose where and how they will spend the next several years of their young adulthood. Acceptances and rejections are part of the process of discovering the best fit for the college years.
Students looking to attend a four-year university take many steps in order to be successful prior to applying to colleges during their senior year.
Mary Grillo, the college and career specialist at Novato High School, advised for students to apply broadly.
“Have a safety school you know you can get into like College of Marin and Santa Rosa Junior College,” Grillo said. “If you have Algebra 2 completed with a C or higher, apply to Sonoma State and San Francisco State because those are your safety schools. Don’t just do all UC’s because if you don’t get in, you don’t have other options. You really should spend time researching schools and what they have.”
The actual college application process may entail required essays of various lengths, transcripts, test scores, descriptions of extracurriculars, letters of recommendation, and even face-to-face interviews.
Senior Emily Mendoza has some insight into the application process.
“The...process involves several components, most of which you can’t control, such as recommendation letters or grades from previous semesters,” said Mendoza. “The only part that you have total control over is the essay. You’ll have plenty to write, so don’t procrastinate.”
Senior Dante Chisholm, who applied to some of the nation’s top schools, also had some recommendations for achieving successful applications.
“Always have one or two back up schools, research the college and visit it to see if it's right for you,” said Chisholm. “Always apply to your dream school no matter what. Even if you don't think you will get it, you never know what they are looking for that year. Apply to as many as you can. It's good to have your options open rather than applying to one and being stuck with that.”
While some seniors are still waiting to hear back from colleges, others have already committed. Mendoza, who received a full-ride scholarship to Stanford earlier this year, committed in the fall.
“Knowing where I’ll be attending next fall is definitely a relief. While I am still celebrating my accomplishment with my family and friends, I am able to allocate most of my time toward my academics and athletics,” said Mendoza.
However, some seniors opted to attend junior college and did not participate in the application process. Junior colleges are less expensive, give students more room to explore, and may be a better fit for some rather than immediately transitioning into a four-year university.
“I chose to go to a JC because it gives me a chance to figure out what I want to do before committing to spending a lot of money on a four year school. I can also get all of my general ed classes out of the way while still planning on what to do next,” said senior Grace Beckman.
Whether seniors have made a decision or not, they have until May 1st, which is the national college decision deadline, meaning many are still in the midst of receiving acceptances and rejections from a variety of schools seeing that they have plenty of time.
“Receiving an acceptance is one of the best feelings because it shows that your hard work paid off,” said Chisholm. “When I got my first rejection letter I was devastated, especially since it was one of my top schools. It’s one of the worst feelings, but it just means that it wasn't meant to be. But overall I'm sure you will be happy anywhere you end up.”
Grillo added, “I think it's very exciting for every senior to get in. It’s fate where you get into and some places that you don't get into weren’t a good fit for you. It’s very, very exciting for me to see young adults being successful.”
Regardless of what path they decide to go down, seniors will be graduating in June and starting new chapters in their lives.