The Struggles of a College-Bound Senior


Senior year. This time in a student’s life is often one of excitement, happiness, self-discovery, and fulfillment as students are ready to go take on the world. Many have been anxiously waiting for this year since they were freshmen and are excited that they’ve finally reached this time in their lives and only have a few months left until they graduate. Many seniors are given added freedoms and privileges, such as being allowed to eat outside during lunch, having the opportunity to take dual enrollment classes and being teacher’s assistants, not having to make up snow days, and getting out weeks before the other grades. Fun senior activities aren’t so far off and students are anxious for Pep Rally, Senior Prom, Senior Night, Class Day, and Graduation.

However, senior year is not all all flowers and rainbows, as many people are led to believe.This time is also often accompanied by stress, as many students face uncertainty regarding which path they want to go in life, what career they plan on pursuing, or what major they wish to study. Seniors also face a lot of stressful decisions as they are expected to take control of their own lives and become independent adults. Amidst all the fun events and freedoms, college-bound students are faced with countless pressing application deadlines, writing an outstanding college essay, taking the SAT, asking teachers for letters of recommendation, applying for scholarships and financial aid, planning college interviews and visits, participating in internships, etc. all while maintaining good grades and a social life. Additionally, many seniors play sports, are involved with clubs, and/or have a job, so keeping up with everything can be very overwhelming for students. Meagan Breen’19 told the Herald, “This year’s been a bit of a challenge with keeping my grades up and being a member of a few clubs at Holyoke High and a part of the stage crew cast for the musical. It’s harder than people think.”

However, students are not alone during this process. There are many organizations readily available to students and their families to help make this process go along more smoothly and as stress-free as possible. For example, many FAFSA nights are held throughout the year to help assist families in filling out the FAFSA and answer financial aid related questions. Also, guidance counselors are readily available to answer any high school/college related questions and help with planning life after high school. Also, guidance counselors help students with signing up for the SAT, post scholarships on their wall weekly, and write letters of recommendation for students. Many seniors spend a lot of time in guidance and the relationship that develops between student and counselor is mutually beneficial. Guidance counselor Mrs.Fenn told the Herald, “Overall, college counseling with seniors is a very rewarding experience. Guiding a student through the process of selecting and applying to schools, applying for scholarships and financial aid, and making a final decision on a school is an exciting journey for both the student and the counselor. We aim to ease the transition from high school to college by providing support and resources from both community resources and personal experiences.”

Overview of the year of a college-bound high school senior:


Seniors enter high school ready to take over the school as the top dogs. This is the year they’ve all been anxiously waiting for for three years and they’ve finally reached it. However, despite all of the excitement and energy, they know at the back of their minds that in just a few months they will be expected to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives, which will ultimately affect their entire future, and they are terrified. They wonder, What major should I choose? Where should I apply? Additionally, many attend college visits and try to finalize their college list.


Students are drowning in schoolwork from all of the hard courses they signed up for, in hopes of impressing college admissions departments. At the time, taking 5 AP courses and 2 Dual Enrollment courses seemed like a great idea, but now that they’re actually immersed in the classes and are being pounded with 5 hours of homework a night, they’re having some regrets. How many months till Graduation again? Many also took the SAT and are anxiously waiting to hear back from the College Board to find out their score and see if it’s good enough to get into their reach school and many are busy writing their common app essays and asking teachers for letters of recommendations. However, this time is not all stressful. Many seniors have been attending the Friday night football games and cheering on their friends as loud as they can, trying to embrace all of the little high school memories before they go out into the real world. Additionally, many seniors anxiously look forward to “senior scav” at the end of the month and hope that their team comes out on top as champion that year.


Many early-birds are busy applying to colleges, beating the early action deadlines. They submit their first applications and finally graduation and their futures seem more real and within sight. Meanwhile, others are still deciding where to apply and are busy finishing up their applications and perfecting their common app essays. They’re busy completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile, which seems to go on forever, and sending in all their materials to their finalized list of schools.


Many regular decision deadlines have come and gone and many students are currently in the process of waiting to hear back from colleges. They’re busy scheduling college interviews and attending their last minute college visits. Meanwhile, many early action applicants are hearing back from their choices and hearing whether they got into their reach schools. They’re anxious and excited at the same time and are stressed out as midterms creep up towards the end of the month. Also, guidance finally began posting a ton of scholarships on their wall and students are busy sorting through and deciding which ones to apply for.


Many regular decision applicants are busy hearing back from their schools and hearing back about scholarships. Students are busy attending accepted students days and trying to decide on the college which is the best fit for them. Senioritis begins to kick in for many, as they get accepted into schools.


Many students are beyond stressed about which school to ultimately decide on, as the May 1 decision date inches nearer and nearer. They weigh out the pros and the cons of their choices and talk to family, friends, and guidance about which school is the best fit for them.


Students have sent in their deposits and are committed to their final schools. Senior finals are over and students can finally breathe and relax. Many are proud that they kept their grades up and didn’t (completely) surrender to senioritis. Students are finally able to truly enjoy themselves without facing pressure and they look forward to their prom, senior skip day, senior prank, senior breakfast, senior night, class day, graduation, etc. They’ve finally made it and are proud of themselves for getting there!

End of May/June:

Students walk into their high school for the last time and leave as high school graduates. They are ready to take on the world and look forward to what the coming years will bring at their select college!