Our own YouthLine volunteer describes the difficulties of entering Senior year in a world of shifting uncertainties!
A reminder that YouthLine is an essential service during the COVDI19 shutdown. Teen volunteers are here to answer calls, texts, and chats from 4pm-10pm PST every day. Adults answer calls at all other times. Reach out if you need support!
Everyone is experiencing this pandemic differently. For some, their home life, lack of extracurriculars, or limited access to friends has made this time particularly difficult. For others, time spent on themselves have revealed hidden benefits these past months. For us seniors applying to college, it’s a little bit of both.
As I write this, I have about 20 tabs open on my computer related to college in some way – from looking at their responses to COVID, dining halls, to my ever-changing college list. My friends and I, when we’re not griping about our near guaranteed loss of senior year, are agonizing over our supplementals, potential test scores (IF we get to take our tests at all), and how we’ll stack up against other applicants. Granted, this is partly connected to the very competitive culture of our high school – but from what I’ve heard from most of my friends at other schools, we’re all pretty freaked out about college applications in the era of COVID.
There are the undeniable pluses of applying in this time – virtually every school going test optional, an increase in online admissions resources, and a more “holistic” and personalized review of applications by colleges everywhere. But there are also drawbacks – navigating how to achieve at the same level when school goes remote long term, trying to anticipate how admissions teams will evaluate your application when missing much more information than usual, and of course, wondering if and when you’ll actually be able to attend whatever college you ultimately choose.
One of the hardest parts of this pandemic for me has been the constant usage of screens. It’s not that they weren’t interwoven into my day pre-COVID, because they were – I always had my phone on me and an assignment open on my laptop. But my day wasn’t centered around screens, and spending all day staring at my computer is something that personally really affects my mental health. So for me, there’s an added layer of difficulty in motivating myself to write my college applications when my day consists of mostly me doing work at my computer. Not to mention, the copious amount of college application videos on YouTube that highlight not just how different admissions will be this season, but also feed into a comparison of myself to an idealized version of others – which is all too common when everyone’s on social media so frequently. Combine my constant Zoom calls with my access to videos of applicants with seemingly perfect stats and extracurriculars, and college applications become scary in a whole new way.
We all have these tendencies and parts of ourselves that make our college processes uniquely challenging for us. It can feel really lonely to assume you’re the only one struggling to get started or figure out your application. I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. However you’re feeling about your college application experience is completely valid, and everybody else is in the same situation. Don’t forget, on top of the normal stress, we’re literally navigating a time unlike any other in human history! Give yourself grace, and remember you are so much more than whatever this pandemic has thrown at you, or what you put down on paper for your college applications. And, if you ever want support, we’re always here to talk at the YouthLine.