Paving The Way To Success: How High School Students Prepare For College

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University sign in autumn with copy space

By: Taiyana Levy and Ramiyah Lee; Senn High School Sophomores

Senior year is always a stressful time for students. Grades, extracurriculars, applications, scholarships, and many more are factors that go into preparing for college. We here at RogersEdge Reporter talked to some seniors about their preparation process for college.

Senn offers a summer program for incoming seniors that provides many resources for seniors. Senior Peter Fournier said, “I think the biggest way that Senn prepares you for college is through their summer course that they do in August. That helps a lot.” 

Fournier also said, “We spent a lot of time going over how to apply for colleges and what colleges are looking for. They have you look over fake applications, then they start you on creating your own. They prep you for scholarships and FAFSA.” 

This is only one aspect of the preparation process that Senn provides. There are still many other factors that go into this extensive process.

Senn still has many partnership programs and courses in place to set students up for success. Senn is a wall-to-wall IB school, meaning they use a specific set of “learner profiles” embedded in the coursework regardless of what program or class students are in.

At Senn, there’s the Major Studies program, the IB Diploma Prep program, and the Arts program. Honors, AP, and IB classes are offered. Senn Arts students, for example, are required to take an honors-level class or higher all four years of high school. 

Not only is it important to take higher-level classes in school, but finding extracurriculars holds just as much significance when crafting a college resume.

Josh Knutsen, a Sophomore at Loyola college said, “The best advice I could give to a senior is to get involved in as many extracurriculars as possible; the clubs are what distinguishes you from other students. Anybody can get good grades, but what makes you special is how you, outside of the academic field, are as a student, as an individual. What you do outside of academics is what’s going to make you stand out, and how you get scholarships. How are you valuable to these universities?” 

Senior Mattie Williams said, “I worked for the online program at Adler Planetarium and I continued to do an ASM (After School Matters) program I was doing online.”

Not only is the college application process challenging for seniors, but many have had outside issues related to the global pandemic. Teen anxiety and depression, even suicide have dramatically increased in the pandemic years. 

Ada Roberts said, “I made sure to balance my work by using study techniques and making sure I get at least some sleep even if it meant I wouldn’t get something in on time. You will end up falling behind more if you forget to take care of yourself. I have always struggled with overworking myself and committing to too many activities or jobs. I have been trying to say no to some opportunities [and] to prioritize my mental health.”

Many students and teachers expressed their challenges when balancing work and mental health. So we asked these seniors and some teachers what they’d do differently if they had the chance to. 

“I would have started caring about college earlier,” Fournier said, “instead of only starting to care about it at the beginning of my senior year. Then, you don’t have as much time as you thought you did. You need to set out time before you’re a senior to start working on applications or you’ll just feel pressured.” 

Williams said, “Space out your time. Maybe create a calendar and say ‘I’m going to work on this, this day, I’m going to work on this, this day,’ and give yourself due dates, so that you can get things done. Stay focused, know your goals, and do everything you can to accomplish them.”

Josh Knutsen said, “I applied to way too many colleges. I don’t think I had enough confidence in myself. I applied to too many safety and reach schools because I was nervous and stressed about whether I would get in or not when I only needed to apply to about five schools.”

“I think one of the things I learned a lot about in the pandemic is, doing too much, and trying to put so many skills that we’re focused on in so much content,” said Senn world studies teacher, Nell Seggerson.

Senn math teacher Kenneth Borre had a similar stance.

“I think this year, I’ve had to make a point of, when the school day ends, you get done what you need so that you’re ready the next morning. Like, I used to spend a lot of extra hours in this building, just because I was comfortable doing it. But now I know I have to give myself breaks,” he said.

Students also looked on the bright side of college and what they look forward to once they get in.

Roberts said, “I’m really looking forward to building a community and finding people that I want to create with! I’m excited for that factor of independence and finding the path I feel is best for me.”

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