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Issue 1

September 27th, 2019

Editor’s secrets to survive senior season

FRI. | 05-07-21 | OPINION

     Since my freshman year, I have been looking forward to being a senior and going off to college. I had a general idea of how college applications worked — but now as a senior I know there is far more to it. To all the underclassmen, here are a few things I wished I had known beforehand in order to get the most out of senior year and the college admissions process. 

     As a disclaimer, applying to and attending a four year college is not the only option. Success can be found in many places, so there is no right or wrong plan for after graduation. Nonetheless, the advice below will be for those with college as their plan.

     The biggest thing I did not know was just how expensive senior year is. If you have a job, start 

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Graphic by Lexi Karaivanova

saving money now — or let your family know to  set aside money. As someone who applied to ten colleges, with four of the application fees waived, it still feels insane to have paid about $70 per school. That’s not even taking into account the cost to send standardized test scores or complete a CSS Profile for financial aid. Based on the ACT website, it costs $15 to send a score to each school. On the College Board website, it states that it is $16 per school to send a CSS profile, $12 for the SAT, and $15 for each AP test. Applying to multiple schools quickly adds up, as do all these tangential fees.

     A clear way to save some money in the college admissions process is to apply to fewer schools, or at least be very intentional with your college list earlier on. I, personally, did not know what schools I was applying to until mid-October, so I had less time to plan and set aside money. That being said, be open to the fluidity of your college list. The mental list I had when I was a freshman differed substantially from the list of where I actually applied, and I am beyond grateful for that. This change was in part to college mail. As pesky as all those emails, letters and booklets are, look into some of those schools — it is how my love for the University of Oregon (UO) and American University was sparked. I have kept every single piece of college mail in a drawer, and while some of them are unopened and could have gone in the trash, it allowed me to expand my options. When I was a freshman, I thought I would certainly stay in-state and go to UNC Chapel Hill or NC State, but here I am now, excited to be a UO Duck. 

     My next piece of advice is to start writing your Common App essay as soon as possible and have a good editor in mind. How you write and tell your story — who you are, what you are interested in, etc. — means far more than a list of activities and achievements. I started thinking about my Common App essay the summer before senior year, and it made writing my other college essays much easier. Many supplemental essays that you will have to write will be variations of the Common App prompts, so I drafted three essays that I could modify as application season moved along. The three prompts that you will most likely encounter are: one about personal growth or adversity, one about diversity or how you add to an inclusive community and one about your passion/acts of service and how it relates to your future goals. 

     Lastly, as cheesy as it sounds, listen to your heart. Do not feel pressured to take the same path as everyone else if that is not what will be best for you. Senior year should be about determining what is the best thing for you after graduation. As Rose students, we are fortunate to have counselors and teachers who will happily supply us with the necessary resources to find success. All we have to do is ask. 

     Because there are so many different avenues to take, it is worth exploring all options to find what is right for you. Whether that be through community college, a gap year, enlisting in the military or entering the workforce, do what makes sense for you. The decision is ultimately yours, not someone else's.

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