Students Stress Over College Applications

Triton Students Feel Anxious Over The Admissions Processs

October 29, 2018


(Poster Photo)

Senior Kelley Frithsen filling out the Common Application in the Learning Commons.

(APA Photo)
American Pyschology Association graphic depicting stress levels in teenagers and adults
(Poster Photo)
Senior Kelley Frithsen filling out the Common Application in the Learning Commons.

As a teacher and the advisor of Triton’s Student Council, Ms. Stacey Beaulieu speaks to stressed-out students nearly every day.

“I think that junior and senior year of high school is easily one of the most stressful times in a student’s early education,” she claims.

It is that time of the year again. Seniors are flooding into the Guidance Office daily, asking for FERPA waiver guideline sheets or explanations on Common Application questions. The English department is busy after school, analyzing application essays, making sure no mistakes are passed onto their student’s colleges of choice. Seniors are becoming more and more anxious about their applications as days pass, and the teachers can only lay witness to it.

Senior Kelley Frithsen has sat at home, in bed, filling out applications for the past month. Papers sprawled across her duvet, her anxiety increases with every incoming Common Application question. She falls asleep, stressed, nearly every night, and awakens with school work still surrounding her. With a dream of attending college in the city, she is antsy to finish her application and leave Triton behind. Frithsen is ready for a fresh start, for she has already become accustomed to the small-town feel of Triton High School and Rowley, her hometown.

Since Frithsen has dealt with her fair share of anxiety, she has developed some coping mechanisms. “Sometimes, just cry, eat food, and talk to your friends about it. Everyone goes through the same thing, and one day you’ll get over it,” she suggests.

Between schoolwork, standardized testing, sports and activities, and places of work, some Triton students describe feeling as though there is already enough on their plate, even before college and financial aid applications.

“It feels like everything’s coming at you at once,” claims senior Emily Wood, who is involved with many activities around school, including Student Council and Community Service Club.

At this time of the year, juniors are becoming semi-obsessive over college admissions as well. In most students’ minds, there is an image of the perfect applicant, someone who has a 4.0 GPA, is a varsity athlete, is involved with charity work, is the president of every club, has glowing teacher recommendations, and has a 1600 on the SAT. At this point in their high school

career, many juniors become engulfed in trying to achieve this “perfect student” status.

Dr. Erik Champy, a Triton guidance counselor, said he does not believe in the image that has seemingly infected the minds of seemingly all college applicants, “There is no such thing as a perfect applicant,” he states.

Even so, Triton students are still suffering from school-related stress, however, they are not alone. In the American Psychology Association’s Stress in America™ survey created in 2014, teenagers across the United States reported unhealthy stress levels  (5.8 out of 10-point scale) during the school year that transcended the 3.9 points they labeled healthy. Teens even exceeded the 5.1 average scores of adult surveyees.

So, how can students deal with the stress?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers a plethora of healthy coping mechanisms. The organization advises consuming healthy meals, getting regular exercise sufficient amounts of sleep each night, giving oneself breaks, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and talking to others as healthy techniques for stress control.

Although the application process might be hazy and anxiety-inducing, is the stress it may cause really all that bad? Champy said “In many ways, there are good stressors, because this is an exciting time, [students] are planning for their future. . . I think it’s important that students learn the tools to cope with the stress we all deal with.”  

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