The stress of college applications

Seniors share how their college application process has been going so far

Tanzim Didar and Alexander Pratt

While most high school seniors graduate in late June, the entire college application process ultimately begins for them the summer before. These seniors attend a regular school day, and in addition to their regular school day, academics and extracurricular activities, they must find time to begin and submit their college applications. While some students take it slow and go with the flow, others are just plain stressed out. 

Diving deeper into the cause of application stress, The Holly Spirit checked in with a few seniors to see how the process is going so far.


What are your plans after college? What do you plan on majoring in and why? 

Taylor Canty: “I plan on majoring in nursing and possibly working as a pediatric nurse in the future. On the whole, I plan to attend a nursing school because I have always enjoyed working with children and assisting others in any way I can. I had aspired to be a teacher, but I believed my skills would be more useful in the nursing field.”

Lexi Abrams: “I plan to go to graduate school to become a physician assistant. I most likely will major in biology and health/sciences because science is a passion of mine and I believe it will help me in my future.”

Abigail Cifaldi: “I plan on majoring in nursing because, after college, I want to pursue a career in pediatric nursing. I would like to live in the city or near the city because I like the environment there and it’s a great way to get a job.”

Francesca Loiseau: “After college, I want to go into the FBI as a forensic accountant, so, I plan on majoring in accounting, and minoring in forensic accounting. I also plan to do a five-year program, letting me get my master’s. I always saw myself working in the government field because I felt like it spoke to me and knew I wanted to do accounting since I was good with numbers.”


What colleges are you applying to and why? Your safety? Reaches? 

Abigail Cifaldi

Taylor Canty: “Rowan University, Rutgers, and Rowan College at Burlington College are my safety schools, so I plan to apply to those in the upcoming weeks with good hopes. I’d like to remain in the state and be close to family and friends, so Princeton and The University of Pennsylvania are my reaches and the only ivy league schools I intend to apply to.”

Lexi Abrams: “My safety school, which I also already got accepted to, is The University of North Florida. I also am applying to the University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida State and West Chester University in Pennsylvania for my safety as well. My reach school is definitely The University of Florida.” 

Abigail Cifaldi: “I’m applying to Pitt, Duquesne, Thomas Jefferson University, UNH, Rutgers, Holy family, Towson, JMU, George Mason, University of Maryland. Holy Family is my safety school. My reach school is definitely the University of Maryland. It has a really hard nursing program to get into since it’s top-notch and competitive.” 

Francesca Loiseau: “My top college is the Catholic University of America, which is my reach as well. Marymount is my safety since I have a really good letter of recommendation from a former alumnus. She was actually one of the first graduating classes from that school.” 


When and how do you start writing your essays? What gives you the motivation? 

Francesca Loiseau

Taylor Canty: “After school, I attended a college workshop with Mrs. Sherman, and I’m using her advice and sample essays to get a firm foothold. My motivation for applying to college and seeking scholarships is the desire to help people in a way that makes a difference in the world.”

Lexi Abrams: “I actually started writing my junior year in English class. I wrote my essay for an English assignment, but my teacher said my essay was really good, so it gave me the motivation to stay on top of things and confidence to write more.” 

Abigail Cifaldi: “Going into the summer before senior year I started to have an idea. One week I actually knocked out three essays to get started. My parents were pretty diligent with the application process, they weren’t hardcore pushing me. I felt like it gave me an advantage because it gave me more time to really think about where I wanted to go to school and tour different colleges. And really, RV has a positive vibe with all these college applications because certain teachers gave me some guidance. Nonetheless, I did feel a little behind because my junior English class didn’t go over college essays, let alone write one. But I figured my way through the writing process.” 

Francesca Loiseau: “I started writing last year, in Mrs.Pliskin’s English class since she made us write it out. So, all I had to do was edit it this year. And honestly, motivation is just my mother yelling at me or positivity encouraging me because when she does it encourages me to work hard. Having friends applying to colleges and talking about the stress also gets me going, knowing that we all want it for the best.” 


Is it stressful? How do you overcome it? 

Lexi Abrams

Tanty Canty: “It’s stressful because it’s on top of my regular school day classes, and it’s a big responsibility for my future, just like my grades this year. The best way to overcome it would be to seek out good resources and assistance.”

Lexi Abrams: “It does get a little overwhelming with my academics and extracurriculars itself but my mom is in my corner and pushes me to complete my applications. I honestly think about my future and how exciting it is for me.” 

Abigail Cifaldi: “It is not too stressful because junior year I felt solidified to where I want to apply and planned everything out. I also did research on good nursing schools, so I am well aware of what I am doing. Some schools, however, require an additional essay and getting those ideas down for a simple essay question was sometimes difficult.” 

Francesca Loiseau: “I know this is the biggest step to get me where I want to be, so I think about my future and my goals in life. At the end of the day when the stress is lifted from applications, new stress of getting in gets to everyone.”


Any advice for juniors who will start college applications next year? 

Taylor Canty

Tanty Canty: “Attend workshops and talk to people who are currently dealing with college applications and essays, because most of the time it’s your family members who applied to college a long time ago who are telling you how it works and those things change over time.”

Lexi Abrams: “Start over the summer by writing it out or outlining it and filling out your common app, because as soon as you finish the common app it will be easier.  Also, find an English teacher you love, who can help you out.” 

Abigail Cifaldi: “Start getting an idea of what you like to do and take note of it, as sometimes the career you want won’t be the one that you ultimately like doing. So, spend time researching schools and careers because there’s no hard looking and seeing what you like. Most importantly, don’t procrastinate doing a lot of the common app work and ask for your letters of recommendation earlier because the teacher’s inboxes will fill up fast.” 

Francesca Loiseau: “Start early, it sounds cliche but don’t wait until the last minute. Plan it for yourself because the people who wait end up not wanting to even try. Some just do it, because they have to. In reality, you don’t really have to go through the stress, just simply go to community college and take things slow. Not everyone has to go to a top-notch college, it does not define you. You will still get the same education no matter what college you go to, so think about the bigger picture.” 

Even though students themselves write the essays, English teachers play an important role in the process. Mrs. Pliskin, a junior and senior English teacher, finds it rewarding to assist seniors with their essays because she gets to teach the upperclassmen and see their growth over time. Mrs. Pliskin states, “Last year I had about 25 students asking me to look over their college essays. I never say no, so [the student] usually will come when we both are free, and we typically work for about half an hour.” Mrs. Pliskin also emphasizes how some seniors wrote a college essay their junior year but did not realize the weight of the essay at that time, so the seniors tend to make changes when it’s time to submit. “I help them try to bring their story to life. For me, it does not get overwhelming but what I find to be the hardest part is seeing how overwhelmed the students are.” 

Another English teacher, known for her wise knowledge on college essays is Mrs. Garvey. “I focus on helping students take their essay in a direction that colleges are looking for and what they want to see from the students. I start by helping them to really refine and hone in what their essay is about, “ stated Mrs. Garvey. “Sometimes I’ll start with helping a student brainstorm. If you can ground your essay on something specific, it tends to be more successful. I try to help a student decide what they want their essay to revolve around because colleges are looking for a core idea that one can communicate successfully.” Mrs.Garvey’s main goal is to help students get their core idea down. She used to run a workshop on this, but now has a scheduled I/E period for students to come in and talk all about college essays and receive help.

Luckily, with the stress of college applications, seniors have the opportunity to ask questions and receive assistance. The English department is a little busy this time of year, but with the motivation and environment of RV, college applications are more eased out.