The Stress of College Applications

The Stress of College Applications

Alexis Binkley

A few months back, seniors were given the option to submit early applications by the November 1st deadline. Many colleges offer this opportunity, therefore the majority of students take advantage of it. Whether this is to gather as much scholarship money as possible or receive early notice of acceptance, stress is prominent for many soon-to-be college attendees. 

With college comes stress and with stress comes decreased mental health so what is it about the college application process that is so burdensome? Some students may say the actual process of applying while others are simply afraid of being denied acceptance, but most students can agree this time of year is stressful. The senior class of 2023 has worked on their studies since “childhood” and it is suddenly coming to an end, speaking in terms of finally getting a feel for being an adult. Many will live alone for the first time, experience a new approach to learning, leave old friends and develop new ones, and an overall new way of life. This is a big step forward and it won’t be easy.

While colleges may offer the chance to apply early, it is absolutely not mandatory and while some may choose to act on this opportunity there is still plenty of time to apply! When reviewing the overall reason why high school students and parents find this process to be so stressful, it was noted that there were three main categories: pressure, time management, and cost.



In today’s society, success is typically measured by how much money you make and where your degree is from. This way of thinking is ignorant and needs to be rethought. When talking to fellow classmates, it was common to hear that many feel obligated and pressured to attend college in order to meet that societal standard. Attending college does NOT define your success as a person, if college isn’t meant for you that is okay! There are plenty of amazing opportunities and options that are waiting to be taken advantage of, community college, trade school, military, or travel career. Online classes are also an option. One senior at Lakota West has chosen to attend a trade school to get their Bachelor of Science in Welding Engineering Technology, “as we are in our last year of high school, we’ve all been programmed to believe that college is the next step to being successful. Although that’s not the case for all of us. I decided on attending a trade school because not only is it close to my home, it is the best option for me financially. We should stop making college seem like the only way, it is not meant for everyone.” College may not be the path for all students, it may not be worth the money for the student’s specific interests, therefore choosing a different route is only right and does not limit their success.


Time Management

Senior year is stressful, not necessarily from the academic perspective but finding motivation to attend school at all; senioritis. With many already balancing school, homework, a job, and social life, finding time to sit down and work on college applications can be overwhelming. A few things have been put in place to make the overall process a bit more simple. For Lakota School District specifically, Common App and Naviance are synced, once the Common App is completed the information transfers to the application, and student counselors send transcripts. Regardless of this, applications can be tedious and time-consuming especially when some colleges require students to prepare additional writing. These writing topics are often chosen by the university and much preparation is needed to ensure the student’s best writing skills are highlighted. When speaking to a parent that has a senior attending Lakota West they believe that “the college application process is so stressful for students because, on top of academic history, many schools also require the submission of additional essays. These essays are often on a topic that must be thoroughly prepared. Another layer of complexity in these essays may be a determining factor for receiving a scholarship, this is a stressful process for any teenager.” The much-dreaded college essay was already enough writing for many students so these secondary essays feel like a bit much to students and parents. Students may not feel 100% comfortable with their writing abilities and needing more time to develop their ideas is necessary. The overall additional pieces make the process longer and harder than it needs to be. 



A controversial topic of college: the expenses. It is mainstream information that college is not cheap. Sadly, this can and will continue to be a determining factor in whether students choose to take the college path. Of course, financial aid exists but so does debt. That thought alone can be a no-brainer to not attend college. The financial stress that will possibly come later is just not worth it. On top of already paying thousands of dollars to even attend college, submitting applications can cost up to $80 for just ONE college. This is not reasonable for many and students miss out on acceptance opportunities because they are limited financially, this is not fair. FASFA is a resource provided to students to determine eligibility for financial aid. Application fees can be waived as well, but, this can feel time-consuming, it’s not always guaranteed, and as one student stated, “it can feel embarrassing asking for help.” Students feel they have to “water down” or even limit themselves to opportunities due to these fees and asking for help can be mentally draining. Everyone deserves the same access to education regardless of background.  


Although this time of year is mentally draining, it is worth it for many students. Whatever path a student chooses whether it is continuing their education at a university or learning a trade there is no limit to their success later in life. Take this time of year to reflect on yourself, your aspirations, and your goals. Do not settle for less than what you want. Do not let any obstacles define you as a person and for the future firebird generations, you got this!


Helpful Resources for Seniors: