College Prep: How to Conquer the Most Stressful Time of the Year

Article by: Alice Ye

September brings a flurry of teacher recommendations, transcripts and college essays, which can only mean one thing: college application season is upon the seniors at ISM. An important part of the application process seniors go through is completing the Common Application (Common App), an application that students can use to apply to 517 member colleges, mostly located in the United States. From September 1-5, Common App essay workshops were held everyday after school, the purpose of which, as described by Mr. Birchenall was “[to] guide students through the application process so that they have all the information they need; it takes over an hour to complete all the different sections so it’s helpful to have a counselor guide students through the various steps.”

The Common App is still only a part of the college application process, however: Mr. Birchenall adds that “students applying for the USA need a holistic approach; GPA, essays, teacher recommendations, a counselor evaluation, standardised test scores and high school transcripts are all components in the application.”.

However, to the new freshmen who have just arrived in high school, the process still largely remains a distant mystery. When asked about what she knew about the Common Application and college application process,  Andie Tolhurst, a freshman, admitted, “I don’t know much!” Tairong Kang, a freshman and a new student to ISM is in a similar position added, “I should do some research!” As freshmen, they are understandably more preoccupied with trying to find their place in high school rather than worrying about college, but of course, over the course of four years, this innocent, carefree perspective will change as they become increasingly familiar with the advancing pressure of college applications.

Another problem seniors face when completing these applications is maintaining a balance between college and school work. In addition to the long, difficult process, most students have to bear the heavy workload of the IB curriculum as well. Mr. Birchenall suggests to “plan ahead [about the SAT/ACT and other standardised tests], talk to your counselor and work hard-especially during Junior year!”

Although college applications can be a challenge, seniors need to keep in mind the true intent of the process; their application should ultimately be a reflection of themselves. Completing college applications may be a struggle, but is nevertheless a valuable experience, and ultimately, in the end, the falling of the curtain on their high school journey.