College application process creates stress class of 2023



College Application process creates stress for class of 2023 and will continue for years to come

Jane Holmes, Editor-In-Chief

With application deadlines quickly approaching and passing, big decisions are just around the corner for many seniors. The nerves and fears of acceptances and rejections are increasingly present during this time. Although the process begins towards the end of Junior year of high school, for some, this has been what high school is all about. College admissions has been many students’ main concern since entering the building in ninth grade. Senior, Scarlett Campbell says, “Ever since freshman year I have felt a great deal of pressure to overachieve for the sake of college whether it was working two jobs, becoming president of multiple clubs and student council, and spending hours everyday studying to maintain the grades I wanted. It was enjoyable at times, but putting that much pressure on myself was and is extremely exhausting.”

At the end of junior year, students select teachers to write their letters of recommendation. This letter will be sent out to all colleges and universities that the student is applying to via Naviance. Students chose teachers to write their letters of recommendation based on their relationship with the teacher, their success or admirable characteristics in the teacher’s course, or a teacher that taught an extremely rigorous course for them. 

On August 1, the Common Application opened for all rising seniors. When applying, students have access to the personal statement prompts as well as specific supplemental prompts for various colleges. In addition to the essay writing, students are offered a space to include their extracurricular activities and previous grades.

The CommonApp is the main way that students apply to colleges. According to Jenny Rickard, The President and CEO of CommonApp, as stated on,  “CommonApp started as an experiment in 1975 with 15 colleges, led by college admission officers and school counselors to streamline the admission process for students.” Today, the CommonApp allows students to have the ability to apply to over 900 schools. CommonApp limits every student to 20 colleges or universities.

In the class of 2023, the majority of students from Bernards High school will be applying to 4-year colleges as early action applicants, meaning that there is no binding agreement to the colleges. They will submit their application between October and December, which is significantly sooner than regular decision deadlines. Applying early action allows universities and colleges to defer or waitlist the applicant, in addition to a flat out rejection of acceptance. This essentially means that the student is not rejected, and their application will be reconsidered with the regular decision application pool in the following Spring. Many students choose to apply as early action applicants because it increases their chances of getting in. This also allows  the applicant to hear back sooner from their schools and gives them more time to consider their options. 

For the students who have their heart set on a school and have an extremely clear top choice,  many universities and colleges offer the choice of early decision. Early decision is binding, thus if the student is accepted to the school, they are legally required to  attend. Opting to apply as an early decision applicant increases a student’s chances of acceptance even more than early action. Depending on the school, early decision can increase a student’s chances significantly or just slightly, but regardless there is an increase. According to college counselor, Sam Jaquez of, on average, the acceptance rate increases by about 10%.

Guidance administrative assistant here at BHS, Mrs. Acuff said, “Every year more and more kids are applying to more and more schools.” Out of 20% of seniors surveyed, 8% are applying to between 15-20 schools. 

Using the resources of CommonApp, Naviance, guidance, college counselors, and internet resources is extremely helpful for students to submit their application, transcript, letters of recommendation, essay, and resume for the best chance of success. Students have found it helpful this year to come up with a list of schools at the end of summer before senior year, start the personal essay before the CommonApp opens on August 1st, and to be clear on deadlines and work accordingly. Students have reported that they felt choosing recommenders wisely has been a major aspect of their process this year and will have a strong impact on their application. 

Students have also found it helpful to have someone help them with the process. One way is by enrolling in the College Readiness course taught by Mrs. O’Brien here at Bernards. Olivia Guyet, a senior who is in Mrs. O’Brien’s College Readiness class says, “ Taking College Readiness has helped me stay organized and stay on task, while having a built in time to work on my college applications with the help of Mrs. O’Brien.” 

Other students seek out of school support as well. Summer Schnabolk, senior at Bernards says, “I had a college advisor so I was able to get a lot of my essay work and general application work done before the start of school. This definitely made it less stressful for me once school started. I feel like the hard part for me now is just waiting for the decision.”

The 184 students in the class of 2023, have so far added over 1,500 schools to their naviance accounts. These colleges or universities will soon be receiving Bernards High schools class of 2023 applications. 

For many students who have already applied to some, or all, of their selected schools are now in the nerve wracking stage of anticipation and waiting.