The Western Hemisphere

Sophomores Reflect on the College Search

Rosie Dougherty-Herrmann, Interactives Editor

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Having escaped the stresses of starting a new school but having not quite reached the stress of looking seriously at colleges, sophomores are in a fairly neutral position. However, with Junior year quickly approaching and teachers encouraging students to go above and beyond, pressure builds up easily. After taking the PSAT last fall, many sophomores have started receiving messages from colleges. These messages often vary depending on what students said on their test form regarding being contacted and their interests. Each school tries to grab the attention of students by advertising everything from their teacher to student ratios, to the best food near campus. With the hailstorm of emails and pamphlets adding to the increasing pressure to stand out in high school, what do sophomores think about college?

Sophomore Ineke La Fleur explained that not knowing what the application process includes is a major source of stress. “I don’t even know where to start!” she explained. She also expressed worries about trying to stand out to schools, possibly being rejected, and financing college after getting accepted.

Other students had similar worries about their applications. Sophomore Charlotte Thomas-Clarke said, “It’s so far away that I can’t even begin to stress out because I don’t even know what to stress about.” She also felt unprepared for applications, saying, “I honestly don’t even know how to apply or what to consider when applying. I don’t even know where to start.”

Izzy Mathewes, a current sophomore, plans to graduate early at the end of next year. She explained that she feels stressed because she’ll start applying for colleges this fall. She said, “I feel like I’ve not been adequately prepared for that because I’m graduating a year early so I have to prepare next year but no one is teaching sophomores how to apply.”

Besides not being prepared for applying, other students told that pressure from parents to do well in school adds to the stress. In addition to this, tests such as the SAT and the varied requirements of colleges for applications make the process more confusing for sophomores.

Sophomore Quinn Loftus didn’t feel that she was unprepared, but was still worried about the application process. As the daughter of parents who work at UVA, Loftus explained, “I know exactly what I need to do to get into good colleges and knowing that as far as signing up for the right things is good, but it’s difficult when you physically or mentally can’t do it.” She continued to say, “It’s not to say that I’m overcome with stress, but it’s certainly present. I don’t feel mentally or physically prepared for what’s going to come in the next two years.”

Despite this, not all sophomores feel worried about applications and college.

Charlie Sewell, another sophomore, felt mostly unconcerned, saying, “I am very confident in my ability to go to college. I feel like I’ll be pretty prepared. There’s a bit of stress, but mostly excitement.” Sewell explained that he’s excited to travel and to see new places. He also added, “I’m a little worried that I won’t have enough content for the essays that I have to write such as ‘what was your hardest thing to overcome?’ and ‘when have you been a leader?’”

Sophomore Owen Shaffer felt similarly to Charlie, explaining, “I’m not that stressed. I feel like it’s more excitement than stress.”

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