College conversation: seniors talk about work, stress, and strategies

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Jillian Augustine, Executive Editor
@jillaugcourant

When I first thought of the idea for this story, it was going to be more of an advice piece for the college process based on what I’ve experienced. However, as I was talking to Mr. McAteer, we brainstormed how we can kick this story up a few notches. After all, the college process isn’t just my experience. It’s not like I can talk for all 330 students of the class of 2018 in one simple article for The Courant. So, it was decided that I would interview a group of my peers who had been through all different types of experiences in the college application and selection process. For this project, I contacted Ryan Borsy, Dominic Maitino, and Cassie Kane— three of my peers who I knew have had varied experiences with colleges. Because of this, when we sat down to talk, the conversation focused around many different aspects of applying to colleges, and multiple different strategies and tasks that go behind it. I found that by talking to these three people, my thought was proved correct: every student experiences the selection, application, and decision process very differently. However, in the end, it’s always good to talk to others in order to understand that no matter how you go about these high-pressure months, you are not alone in your stress.

We’ll start with Ryan Borsy. Ryan began rowing for New Canaan Crew in his freshman year. Once he got further into junior year and the prospect of college started to become more real, Ryan decided to pursue a college scholarship for crew. This is a process that many student athletes go through, even some of my close friends. However, seeing how recruitment worked for a crew student and how it differs from the regular application process that I know was definitely an interesting learning experience.

Ryan admitted when we spoke that at the beginning of his junior year, he didn’t think that he was good enough to receive a scholarship to school for his sport. He worked hard to get to a point where it became an option for him, but even then, his school options were very limited. As he said in the video, his want for a school that accommodated a Division-1 lightweight rowing league left him with little choice because, “that’s mainly Ivy League schools plus three or four others. I knew I wasn’t going to get into an Ivy League so I focused on two of the four others.”

However, Ryan made these limitations work for him. Through his hard work and the help of his coach who recognized his potential, Ryan was picked up by Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a large school with D-1 rowing.

Ryan also shared some useful insight into how to handle the stress of watching peers get into schools while still working on your own applications, or waiting on your results. Ryan said, “I wasn’t really too nervous, I was just focusing on what I had to get done.” This idea of focusing on your own responsibilities and not getting caught up in what is going on with everyone else is definitely important to remember as you tackle your applications.

As is true between most every two students, Dominic has had a very different experience with colleges throughout his senior year. Dominic applied to eight or nine schools, including Indiana University, Quinnipiac University, Hofstra University, Syracuse University, and Elon University. Of these schools, Indiana, Quinnipiac, and Hofstra are Dom’s “likelies”, meaning he will likely get into them and be able to have these colleges as back-ups if a top choice or “reach” school doesn’t work out. As it turns out, Dominic got into all three of these safeties. However, he was rejected from his top choice, Syracuse.

Rejection is something that happens to almost every student when applying to schools, whether it’s your first choice or not. For those of you who have been rejected, or who are afraid of being rejected in the future, Dominic has some advice from his own experience. Dom shared that no matter what happens in the college process, it’s important to stay calm and keep believing that it will all work out. As he knows, I know, and many other high school alumni and seniors now know, as long as you try your hardest and give it your all, there comes a point when all you can really do is wait for the results.

In finding the colleges that he wanted to apply to, Dominic was not steered by sports as Ryan was. Instead, due to his history as a TV Broadcasting student, Dominic wants to pursue a career in communication and journalism. Newhouse, the communications school at Syracuse from which Dominic was rejected, is one of the top communications schools in the country and as a result, very competitive. However, Dominic is still holding out hope for Elon, which is also considered very good for communications majors. Dominic, along with many other seniors including myself, is in the process of waiting for decisions from schools and beginning his own choices on which school he thinks fits him best.

Cassie is one of the lucky ones, as she got accepted into the school that she applied to early decision, Texas Christian University (TCU), very early in the game. As Cassie said, the moment that she realized she was accepted and the college process was essentially over for her, “it was really exciting, obviously, but relieving at the same time because I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”

When talking to Cassie off-camera, she stressed the idea that even if you don’t have that exciting moment of getting into your top choice school like she did, as long as you’ve worked your hardest and done all you can do, you will get what you deserve. A crucial part of this whole process is to remember that while you may have favorites, or one favorite, there are many choices out there that will make you happy.

We all make decisions that limit what schools we like and apply to. For Ryan, it was the sport that he wanted to pursue which took him to a Divison One college. For Dominic, it was his interest in communications and video journalism that gravitated him towards schools with strong programs in that field. For Cassie, it was about the qualities that she wanted in a school: familiarity and school spirit. Every person is driven by a different thing to different schools. Although we were not able to completely relate to each other’s experiences during our conversation, I found that it felt great to hear about something that is such a big part of a high school senior’s year, especially from the point of view of my peers.

For those of you who are approacing this particularly daunting task, remember that the first step is to know yourself, to know what you like, and find colleges that suit you. Another important part of this process that I was reminded of throughout our conversation is to remember to de-stress, and have faith that your hard work will pay off. And, of course, start earlier than you think!

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Senior Editor for The Courant at NCHS

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