College Admissions Pressure at an All-Time High

Kids by no means have it easy these days.

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College Admissions Pressure at an All-Time High




Skyla Jewell-Hammie and Annie Smuts

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Your eyes are burning from staring at a computer screen for too long while the Common Application website is looming in front of you. Your whole future is teetering back and forth like your finger on the “submit” button. The clock counts down as the deadline nears and your hands begin to tremble. We all will feel this feeling at least once in our lifetime and for seniors, it is all too familiar. More than 20 million students apply to college every year and more than 25 percent of applicants submit seven or more applications to different colleges or universities. However, things weren’t always this way. Our parents had a completely different experience when looking for their ideal school.

In 1985, the maximum GPA you could earn was a 4.0, the highest achieving students at Troy High went to the University of Michigan, as it was less common for a graduate to go to school out of state. Applications were submitted by mail in March and students would hear a response by the beginning of April.

“I ran to the mailbox everyday waiting for a thick envelope, which meant I was accepted,” Troy High alumnus Cheryl Ruff Houpt said.

Also, the application process wasn’t as tedious: students didn’t have to write an essay.
“[The process] was very smooth and not too lengthy back then,” Houpt said.

Now, those statistics have flipped. During the 2015-2016 school year, 17 percent of the graduating senior class went to school out of state and one student went to a university 4,458 miles away. The application process is also completely different. Students are expected to begin applying during the August before their senior year and almost always have a dream school in mind.

“I’ve always thought [about college],” senior Carley David said. “I went to [visit] MSU when I was younger and always wanted to go there.”

College football games on the weekend and family legacies make students dream about going to a certain school.

“You have a lot of students who have these ambitions and aspirations of wanting to get into a specific college,” counselor Ali Ali-Ahmed said. “I feel as though it creates a lot of stress on students because it is a very competitive application process.”

Even underclassmen are feeling the pressure regarding college admissions whereas our parents began worrying during their junior year, which is absolutely ludicrous.

“[I feel] a lot of pressure because of the competition from students and parents to be on top,” sophomore Kaylin Jung said. “Expectations are high to get into the best college.”

At times, parents start planning for their child’s college career before they’ve even been born. We see that as a little too extreme.

Due to this pressure, according to Psychology Today, the average high school student can show the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950s. If that doesn’t open your eyes to the reality of high school stress levels, we don’t know what will. With this pressure, comes new found stress. High test scores and an outstanding GPA won’t get you into your dream school anymore. Being in this position, we are paralyzed with fear over just numbers and letters.

“Just this one thing can determine your future so you have to do well. You have to put a lot of time into it,” David said.

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