First Steps to the Next Chapter

The college application process can be scary, but each aspect can have its benefits for student chances.

Applying to college can be one of the most stressful events that occurs in the last year of high school. It’s an opportunity to, in a way, brag about oneself with the accomplishments that they have conquered over their high school career. There are different aspects to each application depending on which school one decides to apply to.

The Essay

Schools often, but not always, require an essay to be written as part of the admissions process. Some prompts ask straightforward questions such as why one is interested in attending the specific school. Others provide multiple prompts that a person can choose from in order to have their best chance of getting admitted. According to senior Avery Malicki Czaplewski, the essay in a college application is the most stressful.

“I feel like it’s hard to write an essay about yourself sometimes,” Malicki said. “Being given a word count and having to write about yourself can be difficult since the essay can make or break your chances of being accepted.”

Letters of Recommendation

Schools will typically ask an applicant to provide one or two letters of recommendation that gives a different opinion or the truth about a student. The most common strategy is to ask the teacher who one has the best relationship with because it gives the school a true vision of interaction with others, as well as their actions in the classroom. According to senior Alexis Yaris, letters of recommendation demonstrates that the applicant is unique as an individual and is not just another applicant.

“I think the letters of recommendation are important because it shows the types of relationships one creates in the classroom and how they act as an individual,” Yaris said.

GPA/Test Scores

The GPA and test score aspect of the application is often one that can stress a lot of students. Some schools strictly focus on this category, especially the more competitive universities, but that is not the case for every school. This category gives schools the opportunity to see what type of student one was throughout their high school career. For example, are they a test taker or not or are they an exceptional student but is testing not one of their strengths? These are some of the things schools will question about when they are looking over this category.

Involvement/Extra Curriculars

Being involved in high school is often a choice many students decide to take. Whether it be a sports team, academic team, school club or even the performing arts, colleges like to see what students are involved in because it gives them another aspect of the applicant to judge. A student who has decent grades but is involved in multiple extracurriculars will be looked at differently than a student who is not involved and has straight A’s. Being involved and having decent grades often shows time management and how a student has adapted to a change in their daily life in order to get school work done. Senior Monica Montoya explains the benefits of having extracurriculars as something to talk about on the college application.

“Being involved is beneficial when applying to college because it makes you stand out,” Montoya said. “It helps because it shows dedication to your school work while having other responsibilities and boosts your chances of getting other opportunities.”


While the application process is stressful for most, it can end up being worth the stress. Having the confidence to press the submit button can take a huge weight off one’s shoulders. Then after weeks or even months of waiting, the student will receive their response on whether they got into their school or not which can be exciting and fulfilling, but it can also be devastating depending on the reply that they receive.