Senior year. It’s the time that every high school student dreams of, and hopes will be the pinnacle of their high school experience. And why shouldn’t it be? We have our final homecoming, pep rallies, sitting in the center column of the gym bleachers, sporting events, senior nights, prom, and graduation… It sounds like every student’s dream.
Well, the reality for seniors this year is quite far from that.
Not only have our seniors had to deal with the stress of college applications, AP classes, leading their clubs and organizations, scholarships, interviews, jobs, and a literal pandemic, but we also haven’t gotten to alleviate any of that stress through social events and those classic senior perks that every other class has gotten. No. We’ve been trapped inside our rooms, falling in and out of Depression, and constantly suffocated by mountains of stress.
Paige Smorynski, Whitney Young ’21, informed me of some of the stress she’s been dealing with the other day. She said, “This year has been incredibly stressful for me. Not only have I not been able to see my friends and do normal senior activities, but we’re also living in a time where the stress put on seniors to attend prestigious universities is unprecedented. Now, we’re seeing more seniors than ever applying to college, top tier universities are becoming more and more selective, and receiving a higher education is becoming more about competition than learning. Seniors this year are more stressed out than ever before, especially when the world’s safety and well-being is at hand.
Paige is absolutely right. The competition to get into college is fiercer than ever, with application rates soaring rapidly and colleges expecting students to have accomplished more and more. Now, students are expected to be leaders in a multitude of clubs, have impeccable grades and coursework, have published research, independent projects, and internships on their resume. Being a smart, hardworking student is no longer enough. Now, many seniors are expected to be at the same level as people with graduate degrees.
In an interview with the Beacon, Gigi Cumpian, Whitney Young ’23, mentioned a few of her fears about these trends in college admissions. She stated, “As a sophomore in high school in 2021, even I feel the pressure that a lot of seniors are going through. I’m just 15, yet I feel like I should be doing lab research at prestigious universities and fighting for internship positions at large firms. I’ve always been a great student, but I know that it’s not about that anymore. On the other hand, I should be thinking about getting my license in a few months and hanging out with my friends during the summer, not about what internship I can secure.”
So yes, readers. Unfortunately, this is our reality. Especially during these times of great uncertainty, political chaos, and public health affairs, our lives have become so heavily focused on success and college admissions rather than typical senior festivities. However, I am writing this article to possibly help alleviate some of that stress. There’s a multitude of things you can do to stop worrying so much about waiting to hear back from colleges, and here are a few ways to do so.
Meditation is a practice that cultures across the world have been using for centuries to help clear the mind and achieve greater vitality. When paired with yoga, meditation can be a powerful tool to alleviate stress. Joey Loranger, Oak Forest ’22, told us in an interview, “I meditate everyday to keep my mind clear and focus on the things that matter most to me. It’s a fantastic way to take my mind off college related stress and even grades. I simply sit in a peaceful place in my home, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and try to relax. Even in the midst of such a crazy world, it’s a great way to relax and take a break from reality.” We recommend you give meditation a try, too! There’s a ton of guided meditations on YouTube and Spotify, and it can be a very useful mechanism in taking your mind off those decision letters.
Positive affirmations are becoming an increasingly popular method of bringing good fortune into people’s lives. All you have to do is simply state your desires in the present tense, or even put them in writing, and watch as they come into fruition like magic. Positive affirmations can be a great tool of sending out good vibes into the air and possibly even tipping the scale of getting one accepted into college. So, the next time you worry about receiving your decision letter, instead say, “I will be accepted into x college because I am a, b, and c…” You just might catch an admissions officer off guard and get yourself accepted into your dream school!
Think About Other Aspects of Your Future
There is no doubt that college is a big part of our futures, but it is not the only facet of our future that we need to be thinking about. Instead of wondering what college you might go to, think about other goals you want to accomplish. What city might you want to live in? What are your travel goals for the next four years? How can you improve yourself between now and this summer? These types of questions can help take your mind off college and focused on other goals that are important to you. Maybe you want to travel to Italy over the summer. Focus on how you might fund that trip! These questions can be fun and exciting to think about and talk with your friends about over FaceTime. Maybe make a bucket list of items you can do once the quarantine is over. Then, set out to achieve those goals!
At the end of the day, seniors this year are under a lot of stress and anxiety, especially given the circumstances. However, this time is only temporary, and we will get through it. With that said, go meditate for an hour, give yourself some time to send out positive affirmations into the air, and think about some other aspects of your future. I promise you, the stress is not worth it. What’s worth it, is your mental health and happiness.