The Challenges of 2ENI0R Year

Each year of high school has unique stressors, but this year adds a new one: applying to college.


Courtesy of Luella Rubin-Wylie

Friends School’s class of 2020 gathers in front of Forbush Hall in September, 2019.

Senior year: an exciting time, and a stressful one. Your last high school memories, being the oldest in school, fun senior traditions, and graduation. Each year of high school has unique stressors, but this year adds a new one: applying to college.

“Senior year is fun, but the worst part is the amount of stress that college adds,” says senior Tina Gong. “Plus, teachers still give lots of work. I feel like I have no free time, and I only get three hours of sleep a night.”

For us and everyone we’ve talked to, college apps are first semester seniors’ worst nightmare. Senior Maren Helmacy describes it as “the never-ending cycle of work.”

Student Meg van den Beemt says she struggles to flip the switch from doing school work to working on college applications.

“It’s hard to change your mindset from school work to writing about yourself, as well as your future,” she says.

These applications will play a key role in determining our future. So we want to make sure every part is perfect.

Then there are the endless questions from parents, family, teachers – and, worst of all, peers. Every day, Senior Hall is filled with conversations about where someone is applying or how far along they are in the college process. According to English teacher Christine Saudek, this happens to most senior classes. Often it gets to the point where college counselor Darryl Tiggle has to call a class meeting, to declare the end of college talk.

“The more you keep to yourself, the better,” Mrs. Saudek advises. She says this will lead to fewer questions, and will help to establish some privacy about the subject.

But while you’re establishing those boundaries, 12th grade dean and History teacher Jon Garman says, it’s important to make sure you are choosing the right home for your next four years: “It needs to be a place that is safe and comfortable for you.”

Mr. Garman says he also recognizes the pressures that families, Friends, and the colleges themselves put on students to attend prestigious schools.

“Even though it is an important process,” Garman reminds seniors, “it is not the most important thing you’re going to do in life.”

There are a few ways that seniors try to lessen the stress. The biggest is applying to schools Early Decision or Early Action. This shortens the time students have to work on their applications, but it also means they find out if they got in by December, instead of waiting until March.

The number of Friends students who apply Early Decision has increased to around 80 percent in the past three years, according to Saudek. This can lead to a lot of tears and disappointment, as Early Decision does not work out for everyone.

“I remember a lot of people crying,” she says. “It’s hard to find one place that you think is good for you and then not get it.”

But, she says, there could be a bright side.

“I think that if you don’t get in, it could be a sign that the school was not the right fit for you. It could lead you to another school that ends up being the perfect fit,” says Saudek. “When you’re my age and you look back, you will know it was your path despite the mistakes.”

All in all, this first half of the year has been hell. But hopefully, when second semester rolls around, everyone can relax and enjoy their last few months.