As the 2021-2022 school year comes to a close, seniors will be going off to college in the next few months. The college applications process has been made easier overtime, but still, through high school, deciding what classes to take, planning financially, and figuring out where they want to live can be challenging and stressful. Hopefully, some of this advice and experience from current seniors can help younger grades prepare for the college process.
According to a college advice writer, Erica’s Lighthouse article, pressure for good grades and finding what topics kids are interested in can start as early as middle school along with the pressure of families, siblings, and friends. It is said by that article, that around the age of 15, counselors reach out to their students about starting the big college search. Senior Aileen Mayo says, “The high school and beyond plan we all started freshman year was the first official introduction to the process. It really helped me pick out my classes for the rest of high school and eliminate certain subjects.” She adds, “I will be going to Grand Canyon University in Arizona and I will be studying something in the area of business as of right now.” Senior Sarah Rosewater will also be doing business: “I am going to University of Arizona studying business administration. I think my counselors have been the biggest help. They have stayed in touch with me and made sure I have my transcripts and letters of recommendation if needed.” Business seems like a popular interest for kids at Issaquah as senior Joey Wilner, going to University of Oregon, will also be studying business: “My parents helped me find my right fit of what classes to take, and Oregon has a pretty good business program. It can be pretty broad so I feel confident in that major.” Senior Shiv Malhorta will be studying computer science at Washington State University: “I took certain classes throughout high school that helped me get to computer science and knew I wanted to study it, and I’m pretty excited to learn more about it next year and hopefully stick with that major.”
According to The National Society of High School Scholars, taking AP classes and getting a B can reflect like an A on a transcript, and look really good for college. Only Wilner and Malhorta took AP. Malhorta says, “I think it looks great depending on if that class fits what you want to go into later. For me, it worked out great because I did well in those classes but it is definitely a lot of time and work.” Wilner adds, “I took APUSH last year during online classes. I thought it was okay but I don’t think it is necessary for everyone.” Rosewater says, “I don’t think it’s something kids should be worried about. I thought about if it would help me get into college, but I think after COVID-19, the transition from online school to back in person was hard enough on me and I know a lot of other students”.
Each of the seniors interviewed visited around four colleges in person, and looked into around eight. According to journalist Catlin Speaks, the applications for schools in the southwest like California and Arizona, have grown by 102% from 2019. Rosewater says, “I always knew I wanted to go somewhere a lot warmer than Washington and I heard a lot of good things about U of A and have a lot of friends there. The first time I visited, I felt like I belonged the second I got there the first time I visited and felt like it was my home.” Mayo adds, “Grand Canyon stood out to me because I really liked the religious side of it and how it feels like a small inclusive community. Everything is there and there’s no real need to go outside of campus and I have a few close friends also going there. Wilner says, “I honestly didn’t know I would like Oregon until I actually visited the University and loved the campus and the people I met there. It was definitely unexpected, but I’m glad I went out of my comfort zone and checked out multiple different areas.” Finally, Malhorta adds, “I thought I wouldn’t want to stay in state until I saw Washington State in person, it also really helps with the in state tuition compared to going out of state so that worked out pretty well for my family and me.”
I then asked each senior what their biggest piece of advice is for underclassmen. The majority said if you can, try to figure out what subjects you like and genuinely enjoy, and as Mayo says, “When you visit these colleges, you should feel like you can picture yourself there and physically walking around campus. It is a really important decision. It’s your home for the next four years.”