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The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

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Solving the stress of college applications

Graphic by Alexandra Gers

That time of year has circled around again: college applications, talk about standardized testing and working to maintain a strong GPA. When walking past Bottom-O, seniors are rushing to finish paper rewrites and meeting with teachers to discuss their quarter one grades– the deadline for grades to be submitted to early decision schools.

Most seniors are coming to the end of their applications for early decision and early action, but are still facing the challenges of time management.

For John Nation (’19), such deadlines are the worst part of the application process. Although deadlines are daunting, Nation believes viewing the application process as a school project is one way of making students feel like college decisions hold as much weight. Nation believes that a good way to manage it is by “finding a free night where you don’t have much homework and just finding the motivation to actually sit down and work through it.”

To make the workload seniors face more manageable, the school provides a support system for these students through the college counseling office. The college counselors support students through their process, guiding them by providing assistance to students who may struggle with any steps.

One aspect of the college process that the counsellors provide the most aid in is the essay portion. Essays can be challenging to approach as they revolve around prompts different to those from a typical history or English class, but the college counselors are active in helping students ensure that they display the authenticity of the student throughout.

Having seen hundreds of different essays, College Counselor Ivan Hauck has developed a sense of what the best route to take is. He believes that one of the main ideas to remember is that writing essays should not be an opportunity to try something new. “Most of the time it’s pretty clear when someone else has written the essay. When a 17-year-old sounds like someone who’s been in the professional world for 30 plus years, or … whenever a student tries to be something that they are not and tries to tell a story in a way where they might be exaggerating or elaborating on things, it just doesn’t seem natural,” he said.

Not only are college counselors there to assist students, but faculty members, such as Principal Devan Ganeshananthan, are another helpful resource. Since coming to the school, Ganeshananthan has offered essay guidance as well as practice interview opportunities. Although each student’s concerns around interviews differ from those of others, helping students with their ability to deliver the necessary information in an interview is important to work on. “Interviewing is pretty new for most kids… this would be the first time that they have a practice interview, so many of them don’t have a kind of baseline knowledge of kind of what to expect, how to share with the interviewer some information may not be incredibly apparent or the interviewer may not have access to,” Ganeshananthan said.  


Practice interviews do not always need to take place with counselors or teachers, as practicing with university professors or deans can be even more helpful. For instance, when going college touring, there are potential opportunities for students to get some practice. College Counselor Nicole Thompson suggests students take advantage of their surroundings if possible, from touring nearby colleges when on holiday, to recommending “that they try an interview… perhaps not with a school that is at the top of their list … but if they’re going to be visiting some place that offers interviews, they might schedule one just to see what the experience is like,” Thompson said.

Sometimes, there is no way that a student can prepare for the exact questions which will be asked in an interview, and revising the structure of an interview is not always enough. “The more that [a student is] just engaged in life and the more you try to be kind and friendly to those around you and supportive to your family and friends, that’s what helps you be a better person,” Hauck said. Someone faking their way through an interview is just as noticeable as one who is clearly curious and ready to attain new levels of education.

However, even after seniors’ stress-inducing events of semester one, the best way to approach writing applications is to find the more exciting parts of the process. “I enjoyed writing the essays, I like creative prompts, I found the entire process kind of fun, like I got to tell my story to a bunch of people and I enjoyed finding different ways and different prompts that I could use through that,” Marianne De Ridder (’18) said.

DeRidder believes that going into the entire process with a good attitude and a positive mindset is also important as “negativity isn’t going to help.” “Support and enthusiasm are the two main things I would hope that upcoming juniors and seniors have,” she said.  

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About the Contributor
Raunak Lally, Culture Editor: Online Emeritus
Raunak Lally (’20) is the Culture Editor: Online Emeritus. In her junior year, she was a staff writer and was just as dedicated then as she is now to the Culture section of The Standard. She is committed to her community partnership as she wants to explore and connect more with others in her community. She enjoys creative writing as much as journalistic writing, and loves completing math problems as much as completing an article.

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