Spartans navigate application struggles



Anyu Gu (12) shows off his organizational spreadsheet for his college applications. Gu is applying to over 10 schools – a feat requiring much organization.


Freshmen step on a path the moment they step into high school. As they journey through high school, they follow the different twists and turns, trudge up the hills and free-fall down the other side. Finally, at the end of their path, they reach their final destination: college.

While they travel on this journey, having a guide can always be helpful. As many seniors reflect on their college admission process, they tend to fall into two categories: those who apply to a multitude of colleges and those who limit their applications. The former have many experiences to share in their process.

“I am applying to more than ten schools,” Arya Rajesh (12) said. “I am interested in doing pre-med in college, so I really wanted to have multiple options to pick from. I think with pre-med, when you take an undergraduate course, at least for me, I wanted to make sure I didn’t pay as much for undergrad considering that if  I move on to med school it’s going to be a lot.”

For Rajesh, applying to so many schools proved preferable as the track she aims to be on in college led her to want to pay as little as possible for her undergrad. One benefit of applying to so many schools is the possibility of choice.

“You have a variety of safety schools, which you’re pretty much guaranteed to get into, and then you have a good number of match schools where it’s a really good fit for you and you would be happy to go there and then you apply to a few reach schools where you have a chance to get in to, but it’s not really guaranteed,” Anyu Gu (12) said.

Many agree that keeping one’s options open is commendable; however, many difficulties come with such a vast spread of applications. Some students have remarked upon the sheer amount of work ahead of them.

“[A disadvantage] is just all the supplementals you have to write,” Gu said. “ [T]he number of essays, the number of times I have to put in answers to the same questions over and over — it’s very tedious.”

In addition to the hours spent on college applications, another factor may impede other students from applying to so many colleges: finances. With a $50 to $100 application fee for nearly every college applied to, the costs can begin to stack up after a few applications.

“I’m really grateful for my parents because they are paying for all the application fees,” Rajesh said. “I know it’s a lot for application fees … so that’s definitely a con to applying to so many colleges, you just have so many application fees … it depends on each person and their finances and things like that.”

Either way one approaches college applications, there are many advantages and disadvantages. With a widespread application to colleges, one may have more options but in turn, a more significant workload and financial burden that may not even pay off.

“You want to have a couple of reach schools, mostly safety at this point, and you want to make sure that the schools that you’re going to have your undergrad and [that] not only can you get in for admission but for money,” counselor Heather Heaston said. “Applying to more than eight becomes redundant.”

With either outlook one takes to college applications most agree: one should start early. No matter where one is on the road to college, there is always a way to get ahead and set oneself up for the opportunity.

“They should start looking [during] 10th and 11th grade, but what they really need to be focused on is knowing … how well they do in ninth, 10th and 11th is what colleges are going to see for admittance and for scholarship money,” Heaston said. “So don’t play catch up … you have more opportunities if you don’t have to play catch up. So regardless of eight or 10 or whatever, make sure your 10th and 11th grade transcript classes and grades are competitive enough to go wherever you want to go.”

At the end of the day, students get out what they put in. Those who have been through and are currently going through the process agree: college is important, but students can learn to thrive in nearly any environment.

“Obviously, to me, college applications are a big deal and it’s very stressful,” Rajesh said. “But at the end of the day, you’re trying your best and you put a lot of effort in your whole year and so, that will pay off — so, don’t worry about it too much.”