The Stress of College Applications- Seniors Share Their Application Stories


It’s everybody’s least favorite time of year again, when seniors scramble from class to class to meet deadlines for applications—it’s time for seniors to make the next step in life. While on the surface it might seem like a fun transition to freedom, what unfolds is one of the most stressful high school experiences because of factors in and out of your control. 

The process of college applications begins with teacher recommendations. The number of recommendations vary, however it is recommended to guarantee at least two from your teachers. Of course, you won’t have to coax any of your teachers into getting one, as most will be willing, but what’s expected of the letter is revealing traits. Traits that can only be found through close connections with the students. This normally would not be a problem—with three full years of high school, finding two teachers to recommend would be a cakewalk—but for the class of ‘23 as well as the upcoming class of ‘24, one year has been largely voided due to the pandemic. Matthew Swanenburg, editor-in-chief of the Lion’s Roar, complained how “A third of my teachers were virtual, so I didn’t get to know them so well. The teachers I get to choose from are my freshman ones and my junior ones.” As if limiting the options weren’t enough, a handful of teachers have left Menchville during those three years, making contacting them nearly impossible. 

But of course, the crushing anxiety does not come from a mere recommendation. It comes from the unending fear that everything you have done up until this point has all been for nothing and that you haven’t been good enough or have missed out on too much to achieve your real dreams. Fun! With a school as vast as Menchville, finding an activity to fit your niche and give you valuable experiences shouldn’t be hard. Matthew Swanenburg, who has taken advantage of many of the extracurricular activities including cross country, track, National Honor Society, and the Student Ambassador Committee, slightly disagrees, stating “I don’t think National Honor Society gave us enough student volunteer opportunities . . . There is only so much you can do inside these walls.” While it’s true that the experiences beyond a sport are somewhat limited at Menchville, Gavin Monteith, group commander of the ROTC, offers another perspective, stating “I feel like they offer enough sports, especially opportunities. Engineering has the Triple Helix program, ROTC for military kids, and so on.” 

Beyond the process is the end goal of it all: post-high school life. The change from the structured high school life to a more free and open-ended nature of adulthood is daunting. A lot of responsibility will be thrown onto the class of ‘23 after graduation, and it will be up to each individual to set their own path from then on. Despite this, both Matthew Swanenburg and Gavin Monteith seemed confident that they are sufficiently prepared for this next step. “[Menchville] being a public school is already open to that type of environment, where anybody can come and there’s a diverse group of people here” answered Gavin Monteith when asked if he was prepared for college. Matthew Swanenburg dryly responded “I’ll let you know when I take a college class,” but revised his answer to “I feel prepared. I feel fine.”