College apps aren’t beautiful: You are!


Media: Sarah Wisneski

The collection of college flags pinned at the College Counseling Office

Sixth formers, as we approach the end of 2021 and the deadline for Regular Decision applications, it can be helpful for us to take a step back and reflect on our mental and physical state. Notwithstanding the invariant importance of college applications, we should not lose sight of the other beauties of life: hobbies, friends and self-care. 

The stress of college apps seems inevitable this time of the year. Each fall, different graduating classes of Hill 6th formers prepare for “senior fall,” the pace of which can be hard to catch on. Their stress is two-fold: the imminent application deadlines and the workload of academic classes. Because of this, Bella Patel ‘22, like many of her peers, has reflected that she has “sacrificed a lot of social events, sleep, as well as the quality of my work, in the interest of college applications. And even when I’m doing something fun, applications are always in the back of my head and I feel like I should be working instead.” It is evident that most seniors start to fall into the vicious cycles of guilt, self doubt, and imposter syndrome. 

Admittedly, college applications and classes are still very important. For all of us, it represents a gateway of advancement to higher education, college-level athletics, or professional studies. After all, the Hill is still a college preparatory school. The grades we get from our fall term classes are the last ones to be reported to colleges, so of course we’ll stand lost at this crossroad, ultimately giving in and sacrificing our mental health. Right? 

While that is true, there are plenty of ways for us to cope with this stress. Only when we control these emotions can there be an opportunity for us to see the beauty of life. 

Nature, relationships, family, hobbies – these are all beauties of life seemingly taken away by the college application process. Its standardized assembly-line-like evaluation process can strip us of our vigor. Don’t let it. Franz Kafka said, “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Don’t grow old. Instead, mature.

If you’re still struggling, Ellen Deitrich, the director of College Counseling, provided the following coping mechanisms: 

  1. Lean on your college counselor; we are so lucky at Hill to have six full-time experts in the field – let them help you.
  2. Don’t succumb to the false notion that there is only one perfect school for you; there are almost 4,000 colleges in the US alone and not one of them is perfect. Just because a college has a recognizable name does not mean it’s the right school for you. Dig deeper and move past the name.
  3. Limit the noise. There is so much misinformation thrown at students in this process. The college counselors are the ones who will know – ask them. Don’t hire an independent counselor; there really is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. Don’t listen to the advice of your parent’s business partner’s cousin who went to the school years ago or even someone who applied last year. Keep your process private – you deserve that.