by: Sydney wanguhu
As someone who is a part of the 2021 graduating High School class, I’m exhausted and ready for the next four chapters of my life…online again. Looking back this past year, we really had no clue what the future had in store for us.
I think this pandemic challenged us to try new things, put events on hold, and made us appreciate what life was like beforehand which is what was going through my head when applying to colleges this year. The nerve wrecking process was hard to navigate but was manageable.
To explain the experience, I reached out to three different types of students who applied to college through either performing arts, student athlete, or academically.
Sydney Wanguhu: As a second semester senior, how are you doing mentally? I know things have been very hard and a lot of people are hitting “senioritis” now and people are ready to finalize their decisions for college. So just how are you doing?
Ryan Defreeuw (Scholar): I’m doing good. You know the online school is just kind of tough. I just look at it like it could be way worse, it’s not really that bad. There’s a way worse situation than we could have been in and I was lucky that no one that I’m close to like ever was affected by covid or anything. So I kind of look at the positive end.
Olivia Stark (Student Athlete): I am trying very hard to hang in there, but In the past I have been a very disciplined student. But now that everything’s online not all of our transcripts are going to show this semester so it’s very tempting to slack off.
Katie Shulte (Performing Arts): It is a lot. I just have to keep reminding myself that the end is almost here. We are. So close and I heard we get to have like an in-person graduation, which I’m really happy about I like if that’s the one thing we do.
SW: When we first went into lockdown, it was a little over a year ago. What was your initial reaction regarding school?
RD: I was excited. I never would have thought like a million years that our whole school year will be canceled. I thought we were just going to be back to normal.
OS: I was maintaining hopes that we would keep the grading like scale that we had which didn’t end up happening with the pass or fail system. I think everyone was trying to maintain hope with everything being so unprecedented and what ended up happening was just beyond our imagination at that point.
KS: I was so optimistic. I just walked out of the school and I said “see you in about three weeks. Although my initial thought was what I’m going to do for choir.
SW: Many say that our junior year is the most important year of High School because that’s when colleges look at you. How did that affect you and your decision-making when applying to schools?
RD: Grades wise I was kind of relieved because they were not where I wanted them to be especially, yes, people are looking at you junior year. I feel like I have the ability to excel in school and I feel like if I don’t, it’s like I’m not taking advantage of what I’m capable of.
OS: It’s probably very different for anyone going through like the regular admissions, but at least as a student-athlete a lot changed and it all was a all a domino effect. Because everything shut down for us and colleges, there is this new NCAA eligibility extension for everyone that had been playing in that season in 2020. Now, recruiting class is a tough spot because you can only take so many kids and there’s less scholarship opportunity for the incoming kids. Because of this people started committing earlier [like I did] in July.
KS: Personally I thought that junior was a breeze but it sucked because I was planning on applying early action to all of my schools and this is the last semester I had. However, a lot of schools adjusted their requirements, so I was really happy.
SW: I’ve heard from a lot of friends that it was hard trying to find an appointment to take the ACT/SAT. What was the process like for you? And how do you feel about schools making it optional?
RD: I did way better on the ACT so I decided to take that one and I actually got lucky because I took my ACT in February, before everything happened, so I was lucky. But my Brother was scrambling for appointments. I mean, I wanted it to be something that they would look at because a lot of schools would say they didn’t even look at it. So I wanted that just because my Act was like the best part of my application because I did really want it. But I definitely understand [why it’s optional], because it does give an advantage to people who may not have done well in school, but I wasn’t necessarily mad.
SW: Athletes were having a hard time, not knowing if they were going to have a season, so then the “Let Them Play” movement started. Where do you stand on sports returning back during the pandemic?
OS: I’m in a tricky spot to voice my opinion just because I’ve already committed and I don’t have the same frustration as a bunch of people that still need to get somewhere. I just think A lot of kids that play sports are very likely to have social lives outside of their sports and it’s really hard to manage what these kids are doing outside of their sports. I think it’s great that we’ve pushed it back for this far rather than starting up in the winter. I think that would have been very controversial but (now) I think it’s great. Those sports are starting up. I’m really excited about water polo starting back up and as far as I know if we’re playing half of our league and we might do like two or three games, rather than being exposed to twice as many people. but then at the same time, it’s a very close up sport that’s easy for transmission. This is a question I’ve been very conflicted with myself. My mom was thinking about going to the rally. I was very against it. But I think now that we’re going into the red tear it’s nice to see more things are opening up, cases are dropping, and the vaccines are being distributed.
SW: With singing being one of the worst ways to spread the virus, how have schools altered their application requirements?
KS: Some schools have a pre-screen where you have to send in your videos or your portfolio then they look at it and then around December then they say like okay, you can move on to the next audition like section or not “we’re good sorry”. I was very fortunate that I only had to sing for UCLA, which is also scary because it was the first time I’m singing in front of people. if there was no covid I’m 100% sure I would be traveling to the schools and singing for them in person. This whole like online situation with like interviews and Performing is a lot less time consuming like money consuming and a lot less nervous wrecking.
SW: For any incoming seniors, what advice do you have to give to them so they can be prepared for their senior year?
RD: I would say don’t freak out when you start looking at all the college stuff because it’s like really it can be really overwhelming especially if you’re doing it by yourself. You know, you just have to kind of take it one step at a time. You’re gonna Learn and you’re gonna like to have a lot of fun, you know, so if you didn’t get in your number one choice, it’s like it’s not the end of the world.
OS: Well, stay consistent, thank the coaches you talk to, and continue to train. I guess it’s harder to get resources now more than ever. But if you have a pool go to that pool every single day. If you have a soccer field at your local elementary school go get some extra reps in.