December 14 seemed like just another normal Friday in AP Calculus BC.
Except it wasn’t.
Amidst the utter silence of a quiz, students heard a scream followed by a wave of advancing roars.
Then out of the blue, senior Mary-Clare Bosco identified the cause of the tumult.
“Yanni got into Stanford!”
Seconds later, the excited senior, followed by a group of congratulatory students, stormed into the room and celebrated his escape from the grueling college application process with his fellow seniors.
Dahmani had been accepted to his top-choice college, as were 11 other seniors accepted through early decision, early action, athletic recruitment or rolling admission.
Early decision is a binding form of application in which the students must attend the college if accepted. Early action is non-binding, and rolling admission is a school policy in which students can apply any time during the application time frame and receive a quick answer.
This year, over half senior class applied early—of the 39 seniors polled, 23 applied early.
And the number of students applying early has been on the rise over the past five years, according to Patricia Fels, former college counselor.
Fels said that one reason students are applying earlier is parental influence. Some parents encourage students to apply early to relieve stress and help with the chances of getting accepted, Fels said.
Jane Bauman, one of the two college counselors, attributes this trend to a combination of students having both the opportunity and the will to apply early.
“We have good college counseling,” Bauman said. “The students are so well-qualified (that applying early) does give them an advantage and improves their chances of getting in.”
Some students like senior Elise DeCarli, who was accepted to Occidental College in Los Angeles, applied early because they knew exactly where they wanted to go.
DeCarli had made up her mind to apply early decision to Occidental by the time school started in September.
“Occidental was the closest to me, as in it fits me best,” DeCarli said. “Other schools didn’t capture me like Occidental did.”
Other students like Imani Ritchards applied early to get into a desirable school while narrowing down the college list.
Accepted to Mills College in Oakland, Ritchards said Mills “is a safety school (where she will be) happy to go.”
She also applied early for scholarship reasons.
“If they have money to give away, you have a better chance to get (it),” she said.
Taylor Oeschger, who was accepted to her top-choice Montana State University by rolling admission, decided to apply earlier in the year “just to get it out of the way.”
“It’s just a weight off your shoulders, basically,” Oeschger said.
However, a potentially more grueling obstacle looms before those seniors who are already accepted—the wait. Now they must battle the infamous “senioritis”—a condition described as losing academic drive after being accepted to college.
In the past years, senioritis happened only in the second semester since regular decisions are usually given out in the spring.
But since students are being accepted to colleges earlier than ever, senioritis is paying an early visit.
“Dude, I was born with senioritis,” said senior Jacob Frankel, who was accepted to Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. “Now that I’m set, I can go back to my interests, such as my banjo.”
Senior Alison Walter agrees. Walter was recruited by UC Berkeley’s crew team.
“(Senioritis) has definitely kicked in,” she said. “It didn’t help that I have two free periods and a free elective. I can do all the homework at school and none at home.
“I feel like senior year should just be over. I want to go to college now.”
The influence of senioritis is so powerful that some teachers, such as history teacher Bruce Baird, accommodated it in their classroom.
“When I started teaching here 11 years ago, I didn’t know such a thing existed,” Baird said. “At first I resisted, but I couldn’t get the students to work.”
“After that, (I told myself) ‘Forget it. I’m going to cover the heavy materials and set the foundation in the first semester, so we can coast toward graduation in the second semester.’ That’s just the reality of it.”
But none of the accepted seniors say they’re planning to completely slack off, either.
In fact, many said they would still study hard for finals.
“I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to get good grades,” Oeschger said.
Oeschger also pointed out that colleges can retract the acceptance if the student’s grade drops significantly.
For example, Walter must meet four requirements to uphold her conditional acceptance, one or of which includes not getting a C in any of her classes.
“I’m going to study as much as I normally would,” she said. “I know that the curriculum at Berkeley is tough, so I have to be prepared for it.”
Walter also wanted to study hard not just for the finals, but also for the AP exams in May.
Like Walter, senior Annie Bell also faces a slight pressure despite being accepted to Smith College in Northampton, Mass., her top choice.
“(Smith) is one of the few schools that looks at senior quarter grades,” Bell said. “I’m really afraid of getting my application rescinded.”
“I’m still very nervous, and it keeps me focused to a certain extent.”
Even Frankel said he would study.
“My academic ethic is the same regardless,” he said. “I study to learn.”
“I may be tempted to not study, but I will try to the best of my abilities to maintain, as I have maintained, good grades.”