The Pressure is On

Seniors take a step back to determine what makes a good college application


Graphic by Emy Galustyan

Students wait for college decision letters in the mail after applying.

Meriam Meram, Copy Editor

Fall is here, which means the start of college applications for most seniors. With deadlines for many colleges being Nov. 1, seniors are finalizing their applications and gearing up to send to their colleges. Most of them include a set of general questions, an activities list and a general essay, with a prompt usually taken from the Common Application. Although many schools use prompts from the Common Application, some, such as the University of Chicago and many Ivy League schools, require supplemental and personal essays. This proves to be more of a struggle for many students.

Senior Benjamin Rush is working on writing his supplemental essays.

“I’ve written some of my essays, but the personal essays are probably one of the hardest parts of my applications,” Rush said.

Along with essays, most colleges require prospective students to send in their standardized testing scores from the ACT or the SAT. Since many schools like the University of Michigan and Michigan State University tend to be more competitive, with average ACT score ranging between 29-32 and 22-29 respectively, many students feel pressured to get high standardized test scores in order to have stronger applications.

Senior Husna Mohammed sees a lot of importance in these scores for more than just general college admissions.

“I think having a high standardized test score is really important because these scores can help you get into certain programs within a college like Med-Direct at Wayne State,” Mohammed said.
In recent years though, more universities are beginning to move away from looking at standardized test scores in their undergraduate applications. Instead, they are attempting to look at the applicant as a whole, outside of scores. In June 2018, the University of Chicago became one of the first universities to not require ACT or SAT scores in their undergraduate applicants. This begs the question whether standardized test scores should still be a large factor in college admissions.

Rush agrees with the University of Chicago’s actions when it comes to standardized test scores.

“I think these scores are important to some degree, but they shouldn’t just look at the scores,” Rush said. “There’s more to a student than their scores.”

If standardized test scores no longer become required on college applications, many wonder how colleges would judge applicants. In previous years, many students believed these scores may have been a make-or-break factor when it came to admissions. But now, standardized tests may have become a thing of the past.

Mohammed believes that colleges may have to look completely outside of an applicant’s school life when it comes to judging their applications.

“I believe the thing that makes a good application isn’t just grades and standardardized test scores, but extra curricular activities, what you do outside of school,” Mohammed said. “[The scores] aren’t a good representation of the student as a whole, scores and grades are only a part of who they are.”

On the other hand, Rush believes that the answer to admissions lies in the grades.

“The courses that you’re taking and the grades you got in those classes should be the most important part of an applcation,” Rush said. “It’s more represemtative of a student than just test scores.”