Seniors Left for Dead?

The college application process is overwhelming, but teachers can help.

By Shannon Tseng | Staff Writer

Upon discovering that all seniors from BASIS Independent, a private charter school, are enrolled in on-campus college counseling classes, I was surprised at how thoughtful their school administrators were to their seniors. But what astonished me more was the realization that Irvington doesn’t really do much to help seniors apply to college. Irvington isn’t a private school like BASIS Independent is, but that shouldn’t stop the staff from helping seniors apply to college. Irvington teaches students the skills necessary to succeed in college through mandated benchmark projects, but the staff should help students get into college to reduce their stress and to ensure that their students are on the right path to success.

Completing the multifarious applications is a daunting task that often overwhelms seniors, but receiving feedback during class time would help seniors immensely. Suppose Mark is a senior. Mark wants to apply to UCLA and CSU Long Beach. He now has to complete two separate applications and write two essays for his UC application. But Mark is an ambitious guy, and he wants to apply to Cornell University as well. Mark now has to complete the Common Application, which will ask him for up to three personal statements and three letters of recommendation. Mark also needs to submit his SAT, ACT, and AP test scores to all the colleges for which he is applying. Finally, he must complete all his applications and his FAFSA while maintaining his grades at school. Not to mention, Mark still hasn’t found his QUEST consultant. Mark has never felt so stressed in his entire high school career; he knows the consequences of his his actions will pave the road to his future.   

Mark needs guidance because he can’t juggle everything on his own; teachers can help seniors like Mark. Teachers can alleviate seniors’ stress and lead them in the right direction by providing class time for essay writing or peer edit workshops.

Hosting workshops in class gives students opportunities to receive feedback on their essays in a distraction-free environment and to ask questions about the seemingly never-ending application process. Additionally, workshops will help students who don’t have the privilege of hiring professional tutors to help with their applications. Many students can’t even ask for help from their immigrant parents, who may have applied to and attended school in different countries. And Mrs. Kimmel, Irvington’s college and career counselor can’t effectively help each of the 559 seniors on campus. However, students can take advantage of the resources available in the college and career center.

“It’s probably every high school’s goal to send their students on to higher education,” Mrs. Kimmel said, “We’ve had different personal statement workshops [and] probably 100 different colleges that have been on campus since early September. Whether it’s effective or not, I can’t really say for sure, but we try everything humanly possible to help everybody who wants help.”

Although the College and Career Center offers a variety of informational seminars and application workshops, there’s no way for Mrs. Kimmel to provide one-on-one assistance for each senior. On the other hand, teachers spend plenty of time with their students and should step up to help seniors with their applications.

Sending students to college is one of Irvington’s aims, but students can’t always handle the application process on their own; thus, teachers should provide class time to work on applications. Working on applications in class will reduce seniors’ burdens and guide seniors towards success. While teachers should provide these opportunities, students also need to actively utilize what the school has to offer. By doing so, students and teachers progress together towards the ultimate goal: to create individuals who constantly seek higher education.