College is in the air

Seniors in midst of college applications

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photo credit: Delan Mirza

Future prep \\ Senior Delia Martinez takes notes in Mrs. Newton’s precal class Dec. 17. She, like most seniors, is currently applying for colleges. “It’s hard to pick your future when you’re little, it’s intimidating,” Martinez said. “It’s even worse when you think about getting in, paying for [college], or handling the workload.”

Rushed fingers flying over the keyboard, constant clicking of the refresh button, and a sudden build up of anxiety bubbling on the surface. 

Then finally, the yellow button pops up on the screen. “View Status Update” it reads in big bold letters. One click of the button and the final decision is revealed. 

For almost every senior in America, this is a familiar and defining moment. The College admissions process is a difficult trek that thousands of students complete each year. Twelve years of strenuous hard work in classes, stacked resumes with large involvements in various clubs and organizations, and countless nights of test preparation for standardized tests all contribute to the fate of each student.

Senior Delia Martinez is no stranger to this new journey. She has already applied to the University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University Commerce and Austin college

Applying for college has always been a successful process, and I have hundreds of breakdowns doing the smallest things for the applications.”

— Christina Cho, senior

Several factors went into consideration when selecting the schools she would apply to. It was crucial that each criteria was met so that Martinez could enjoy every last bit each college has to offer.

“I chose [these schools] because each had key factors that made me love them: a gorgeous scenery, how close they were to home, good internship and student trip opportunities, affordability, and opportunities I would receive from each school,” Martinez said.

She was largely invested in school-run organizations and clubs that allowed her the opportunity to list her involvement in her resume, which she submitted to colleges.

“I was involved with Student Council, National Art Honor Society, National Honor Society, Leo Club and Art Vase,” Martinez said.

However, despite the exciting process of applying to college, Martinez unravels the truth to a lot of underlying stress in planning for the future.

“It’s hard to pick your future when you’re little, it’s intimidating,” Martinez said. “It’s even worse when you think about getting in, paying for [college], or handling the workload.”

Money is also another large concern.

“My parents won’t be paying for me, and I won’t receive anything from FAFSA,” Martinez said. 

Luckily, some things have turned out to be a much easier task than anxiety would allow for imagination.

“Writing my college essay was easier than I thought. I was scared my topic wasn’t good enough, but I was wrong,” Martinez said.

Senior Christina Cho has also applied to potential colleges. Her list includes the University of Texas-Austin, University of Texas-Dallas, and Baylor University in which she plans to major in Biology. 

However, she also recounts her experience with college admissions in a different light. Her version involves a deeper impact of culture and mental health.

“Applying for college has always been a successful process, and I have hundreds of breakdowns doing the smallest things for the applications,” Cho said.

Race and culture norms of higher expectations for education in Asian countries play a large role in shaping Asian Americans. However, this precedent has also spread to the United States, where it takes form in a belief that is now labeled the “Model Minority Myth.” The myth, although no fairy tale, is a stereotype that upholds Asian American students to a ridiculous perception of perfection.

For Cho, this standard has participated in the pressure for her to chase after unrealistic goals of nothing less than perfection in regards to academic grades.

“Growing up, I know everyone must have had the same issues, but growing up Asian, I have always had the bar set high,” Cho said. “I thought that if I never went to an Ivy League [school], I would be dumb or not good enough.”

While these perspectives may have encouraged Cho to be a hard worker, it also meant that failure took a large toll on not only mental health, but also self esteem.

“I had to always be the best in grades, sports and extracurricular activities,” Cho said. “When I wasn’t the best, I was always just pushing myself further and further from achieving the slightest bit of happiness for myself.”

Fortunately, Cho has come out stronger from the other end, and is viewing her admissions process in a more positive light.

“Whatever happens, happens, and I’m meant to be wherever I end up,” Cho said.

Although, both Cho and Martinez have finished their applications for this year. Students still have time complete their college applications. The next due date is for regular decision, which is most commonly Jan. 15. However, this date differs per school. 

In light of the coronavirus, colleges and universities are working reduce the amount of potential stress college applications can bring. Schools are waiving application fees for requests due to financial issues. 

Additionally, nearly every college has gone test-optional this year, allowing students to choose whether or not to submit their SAT and ACT test scores.

By May 1, the standard deadline to commit to a college, most students will know where they will attend school next year.