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College application process causes stress, unhealthy work habits in students

Brophy seniors work on college applications during a workshop in B105. Photo by Mark Rossbach ’21

Photo by Mark Rossbach ’21 | Brophy seniors work on college applications during a workshop in B105

By Harrison Cohen ’20


As college application deadlines draw near, the pressures of the college admissions process escalate as well. With 3,650,460 graduating seniors across the nation this year, many are competing to earn a spot in the schools of their choosing.

Often, to get the best chance at admission, students are submitting their applications as soon as Nov. 1. These applications include a high school transcript, ACT or SAT test scores, teacher and counselor recommendations, a multitude of essays and the money to submit applications.

For students, this process has become an additional burden on top of all the other stresses encompassing senior year. It has become a frequent topic of conversation amongst friends, both in and out of school.

“I’d say it comes up once or twice every time we hang out. Most of the time, in the setting of, ‘I haven’t done this, I’m screwed,’” said Ryan Coury ’20, a senior in the midst of applying to a variety of prestigious universities, including Notre Dame and Stanford.

Brophy college counselors also recognize the immense stress in seniors due to the competition of college.

“I definitely get the sense that students, seniors, in particular, are overburdened with college stress,” said college counselor Mr. Oscar Borboa ’05.

Additionally, the stresses of the college admissions process have pushed certain students to give themselves an overly-taxing workload. College competitiveness has heavily influenced unhealthy work habits in students.

“I think it goes hand in hand, this idea that running on very little sleep is glorified, that being involved in as many things as possible is held up as an example,” Mr. Borboa said.

Brophy parents note in their children that the extreme competitiveness of college applications is also present in other aspects of life.

“I think everything is more competitive now. I don’t think it’s just college,” said Sophia Kobs, mother of two current and two former Brophy students. “I think every aspect of life is more competitive than it used to be.”

Students and counselors believe that the college admissions process has to continue evolving to become more effective. In the future, this could include many schools not requiring an ACT or SAT score to be submitted with the application.

Mr. Borboa has noticed a trend in colleges and universities not emphasizing standardized test scores as much as in previous years.

“More and more schools, more and more studies, are recognizing that it’s not a huge part in terms of determining how a student is going to perform at a given school,” Mr. Borboa said.

Furthermore, Coury notes that standardized testing also gives an advantage to those students who have a better means of preparing for the SAT or ACT.

“I’d say standardized testing should be a less important factor because students can easily tutor up to get a better score, whereas less wealthy students don’t have that opportunity,” Coury said.

While students and counselors both encourage this change in the process, parents recognize it as well. Coury, Mr. Borboa and Kobs believe that admission should be based on different criteria, and that test scores shouldn’t hold as much weight.

“I think there is a trend to maybe not concentrate on the test scores and just look at grades and activities and recommendations,” Kobs said.

For now, many colleges will remain considering standardized test scores along with the other facets of their applications. Yet there are 950 schools across the country that have become test-optional, with that number growing each year.

Brophy seniors work on college applications during a workshop in B105.

Photo by Mark Rossbach '21

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