Seniors Spill: Class of 2020 share college application experience, advice

The Octagon recently asked seniors to reflect on the college application process. Quotes have been edited for grammar and conciseness.

“I wish I had looked into more colleges. I kind of just applied where I thought the college had a nice campus and the majors I wanted. I guess I never really had the money to visit them or the drive to look more into them. I kind of just guessed that I would get into a college and went with the flow. 

“I’m not really upset by this choice, and I’m really excited about where I’m going but — I don’t know. 

“I was surprised when I didn’t get into certain colleges because I thought, and was told, that my applications were really good. Apparently, colleges will waitlist people they think are choosing their schools as safeties, but I’m not sure if that actually happened to me.”

—Alyssa Valverde, Utah State University

“I would just offer similar advice as many seniors before me, yet somehow I forgot during the process. I wish I hadn’t applied to as many schools as I did, even if I count all the UCs as one school. 

“Trust the process: Everything works out how it’s supposed to despite the weird nuances of college applications. You end up where you end up for a reason bigger than you can understand at this moment in time.”

—Jackson Crawford, University of Southern California

“I would tell juniors to start their essays early because it sucks to cram them in last-minute.”

—Yumi Moon, University of California, San Diego

“Don’t be afraid to copy and paste answers from one application to another if they ask the same or similar questions.”

—Emme Bogetich, University of California, Davis

“Boy, do I have a story to tell! I’m so glad my parents and I attended the accepted students webinar because colleges really showed their true colors — good and bad. 

“One of the colleges was unprepared in its Zoom meeting and didn’t address the elephant in the room: What changes are being made for COVID-19? Thus, it seemed like as a student, I wouldn’t be in the school’s best interests. 

“Funny story by the way! The college that was unprepared didn’t think to mute all of the attendees upon entering, so one man let out a burp, causing his name — in big, bold Zoom letters — to pop up for everyone to see. It was quite the experience. 

“On the other hand, the school that was actually my second choice became my first choice because it was so prepared and proactive about handling COVID-19. They said that if they had to start the fall semester online, they would discount tuition. Their presentation overall was really polished. 

“It’s not so much the money that attracted me, but the action itself. It really showed they are compassionate and caring about their community.

“A word of advice: Don’t buy into the prestige of ‘top’ colleges. Really do your research about how these colleges are taking care of their students and preparing you for the future. Stats and rankings are great, but you also have to read between the lines and think about where these rankings come from. 

“I highly recommend connecting with students at these colleges because you want to know how they’re going to treat you if you’re going to pay thousands of dollars and spend four years of your life there. The name can only do so much when you’re applying for a job. 

“I just really hope people see that college is a serious decision that can’t just be based on prestige. A lot of prestigious colleges are showing that they don’t really care about their students — some professors at UC Berkeley are just giving students assignments without any instruction. SCDS students deserve more than that.”

—Maddie Woo, University of San Diego

“I was surprised by how all-consuming it was between October and January, but then after that I basically forgot about it. And by the end of March, it was all over. I almost feel like I put too much thought, time and energy into it all in the fall. 

“Don’t let it take over your life at the beginning of senior year to the point that it’s all you think about or work on. Because honestly, over 90% of that work won’t matter in the end. 

“I’m not saying to not work hard on applying to college, but put some heartfelt and meaningful time into it and then move on. It’s not worth stressing over to an unhealthy point.”

—Anna Frankel, Carleton College

“I wish I had known that a lot of opportunities have a much earlier deadline than the one for the application. Do your research early.”

—Shimin Zhang, University of California, Berkeley

“Juniors: Choose a school for you — not for your parents or your teachers or your friends. Go where you will be happy.”

—Rebecca Waterson, Brown University

—By Larkin Barnard-Bahn

Originally published in the May 26 edition of the Octagon.