by Maggie Eames ’19
During freshman year of high school—or in my case, both of my freshman years of high school—teachers, friends, and relatives told me that senior year would be here before I knew it. I laughed at the notion, considering it would take me four years to get there; how could four years possibly go by that quickly? And yet, as I sat in the front row of chairs on the back of the quad at graduation this past June, watching the last of my older friends walk down the aisle to receive their diplomas, I understood the accuracy of what everyone had been telling me. I am now a senior applying to college, and it is finally our turn to graduate.
Evidently, the college process is stressful. I watched many family members and friends of mine in varying states of distress from the day the Common Application opened to the time their applications were due. On the one hand, I wanted to finally be a senior, but I didn’t want the weight of “What’s next?” bearing down on my back, either. Thankfully, I am here to tell you that the college process has not been near as taxing as I assumed it would be, thanks to our College Counseling office.
At Lawrence Academy, the college process begins well before the Common App opens on August 1st. In December of junior year, students meet with the college office during a free block to choose who their counselor will be; they write down their first two choices (out of four admissions counselors) and are guaranteed to be placed with one of them. Upon return from winter break in January, College Counseling Classes begin. Juniors meet during one free block a month up until the end of the year to go over every aspect of the process from navigating Naviance, understanding what you want in a college or university, to what makes a good college essay. By the end of junior year, students will have a comprehensive list of schools that they are interested in applying to and at least one completed draft of their college essay. In addition to college classes during that occur during the academic day, there are two required weekend events for juniors: Junior College Day in February and an essay writing workshop in April. During the Junior College Day, four representatives from different colleges and universities come to campus for a panel on the admissions process. They do not come to represent their schools, but rather to provide insight as to what it is like to apply to schools ranging from small liberal arts colleges to large research institutions. As for the essay writing workshop, students meet in their English classes with either a teacher in the English department or one of the college counselors to create a list with a myriad of ideas as to what their essay topic will be.
One of the most significant events the college office offers to students is the Summer College Bootcamp: a free, four-day workshop held in August. Students meet for four hours a day to go over the admissions process/the essay, supplemental essays, the Common Application, and the interview process. I could not possibly recommend this boot camp more highly if I wanted to. I was able to complete my essay, fill out every part of the Common App, draft two of my supplemental essays, and have a mock interview. While it certainly does not feel like it will go by quickly in the moment, senior fall goes by fast and applications will be due before any of us realize it. Having this much work completed before classes began eased some of the stress, and the college office is committed to preparing and informing students and families throughout the entire process.
While I cannot guarantee the process will be stress-free, considering by nature I am stressed out about almost everything, I can promise that if you work with your college counselor and get everything in on time, it will not be overbearing. I have worked closely with my college counselor, Mr. Sheehan, and am confident that I will be happy at any of the schools I intend on applying to. I am happy with my essay, how my mock interview went, and am extremely grateful for how accessible all of our college counselors are for extra help and answering the arsenal of questions I always seem to have. It is finally our turn to graduate, and even though I am telling myself that I am ready to receive my diploma, it is going to come faster than any of us want it to.