The Final Stretch


Taylor Good , Author

Throughout the summer, many seniors have been diligently searching for institutions that best suit their needs, going on multiple college visits, virtual tours, and college conferences to wind down their decision before the application portals opened on August 1st. Now that the semester has started, seniors have been feeling overwhelmed with all of the materials needed to submit their applications.

To lighten the burden of the application process, College and Career counselor, Dr. Creel has been working continuously with seniors to ensure that they are on track. With all of the obstacles students have to go through to acquire documents like transcripts and counselor recommendations, Creel fully understands the anxiety that they are feeling.

“I think students–all in all–are working,” said Creel. “I will say that about the senior class. I think they are trying to balance being excited about being seniors and being excited about what’s next, but there’s always anxiety when it comes to applying. It’s a very broad process- it’s a very big process- but it has a lot of tiny little details, so I think there’s this anxiety as there is with every senior class, it’s not just you guys. Every senior class there’s this anxiety about missing something or missing deadlines and those sorts of things.”

Depending on the institutions that they apply for, seniors have to scramble to have every requirement completed before the deadline. For students who are applying to the Naval Academy or Westpoint, their processes are due at the end of September or mid-October.

“I think there’s a variety,” said Creel. “I think deadlines kind of push who’s applying and what the focus is right now. There are a couple of schools that have really early deadlines in the middle of October. So, the beginning of October and the middle of October are like our students applying to West Point, and for the naval academy, their process is done at the end of September; so they have to be on top of everything through the summer and quickly when the school year starts.”

With an influx of gifted students applying this year, the acceptance rate for each institution has gotten smaller. Many seniors have chosen “Early Decision” to prohibit the possibility of being waitlisted.

“Then there are students trying to apply to the engineering program at A&M,” said Creel. “That’s due October 15th for those students who want to apply early at that school. Then there are students applying by November 1st. Every senior class there’s a pretty big push at the beginning to get stuff done, but not with one particular college; that goes a little bit everywhere.”

Accompanied with the stresses that come from the application process, the burden of what institutions students should commit to have also contributed to the rise in panic. To help broaden students’ options- as well as to acquire further information about the schools that they are applying for- the Career counselors have scheduled a semester-long event where various universities host conferences with seniors and juniors.

“We have college visits here,” said Creel. “When the colleges from across the country or across the state they’ll sign up with College Park to come in and have college visits. They predominantly want to talk to juniors and seniors; they’ll talk to freshmen and sophomores but they also know that the proceeds may change just a little bit and rules and regulations may change a little bit about applications. But they really just want to talk to juniors and seniors about the process, about their college, and answering any questions that our students have. I think seniors are really good at looking on websites and trying to figure things out, but sometimes talking one on one with that admission professional that’s visiting.”

Creel highly encourages students to attend the college visits if they want a greater understanding of what colleges are looking for. Students can see what colleges are visiting each week in their Naviance accounts.

“Students can register in their Naviance accounts for their college visits,” Creel said . “It’s really important, especially if it’s a smaller college or an out of state college, that this may be the only opportunity a student has to talk with the admission representative that’s most likely going to be the person that reads their application. So it’s really important for them to sign up for college visits. We’re lucky we’re a school where we’re going to have 75 to 100 colleges visiting us by the end of the semester, and a lot of high schools aren’t like that, so we really want kids to take advantage of that. Understand that class work comes first, you can’t miss a Calculus test, and we don’t want students to take advantage of trying to be out of class, but to really kind of thoroughly look at the list and sign up for things that they are interested in seeing.”

With the various requirements that each institution has, the application process may be too overwhelming for students to handle. They can stop by the College and Career Center to ask Mrs. Creel any questions that they might have or hold conferences with her or any one of the College and Career counselors.

“Students can come by the College and Career center and they can drop in if they got quick questions, both Mrs. Jones and I can help,” said Mrs. Creel. “Mrs. Jones is great with the logistics of how to order teacher recs and transcripts. So students can drop by anytime. If I am currently with a student or if a student feels like they need some extensive help, we just have them sign up for an appointment in our office.”
If planning to schedule a conference during the period, Creel recommends students to avoid emailing her due to the likelihood of the message being lost. If the scenario is urgent, Creel will still make time to ensure that the students’ needs are fulfilled.

“We’re always afraid if we do it online it’s going to get lost in the emails and all of that,” said Creel. “Students can also email both of us too. We know a lot of time that seniors are working on applications at night and on the weekends where they can’t come in, and that’s the reason we have a very extensive Canvas course that kind of goes through those step by step processes. But, over the weekend students email us. I check my email a little bit over the weekend– not much because I try to have a weekend– but then I always try to check it and respond because a lot of times seniors have quick questions that can be answered in two to three minutes, and a lot of seniors need a longer time to break down that process.”