Seasons for change

BVH seniors tackle college application season


Nicole Macgaffey

BVH seniors can feel overwhelmed with balancing all aspects of life especially during college application season. Students can feel scattered brain and find conflict in managing all their responsibilities.

Elie Cajes, Features Copy Editor

Multiple tabs occupy the top of their computer screen. One, containing the college application, and the others containing school transcripts and financial information. At home, a planner lays on their desk with college application deadlines circled in red marker. In the midst of the chaos, balancing school assignments, college applications, and extra-curricular activities, sits a senior frantically revising their college essays to make them the best they can be.

Nov. 30th—the admissions deadline for Universities of California (UC) and California State Universities (CSU) is right around the corner. During the fall, Bonita Vista High (BVH) seniors dedicate most of their time to filling out and submitting applications to the colleges of their choice. On top of these applications, seniors have to balance school work and extracurricular activities. 

“It’s been stressful. It’s [college applications] on the back of my mind. I’m finding it hard [to find time] to balance everything,” International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Candidate and senior Denise Wu-Mendez said.

Wu believes the driving force behind her stress are the college essays piling up. Her ambition to successfully demonstrate herself and her skill set through these essays is another stressor. From Internal Assessments to Extended Essays, she found herself pushing back her common application essay and Personal Insight Questions (PIQs). 

I aspire to be just as hardworking as her, creating my own success and path.”

— International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Candidate and senior Denise Wu-Mendez

“I was procrastinating because my college essays felt like homework. At that point it was senioritis,” Wu said. “I began pushing myself to start working on them [college applications] because of my older sister [who is] going to UC Berkeley. I aspire to be just as hardworking as her, creating my own success and path.” 

In order to reduce college stress, Advanced Placement (AP) student and senior Xavier Millan found creating a to-do list on his phone was helpful. He prioritized college applications on the weekends and school work throughout the week. 

“The separation between schoolwork, college essays, and applications is essential to me because college essays require a different mindset compared to academic writing,” Millan said. “If you are constantly switching back and forth between schoolwork and college essays, the tone of your essays is different.”

Similarly, IB Diploma Candidate, Assistant Drum Major for Club Blue, and senior Olivia Martinez set small, achievable goals for herself. She acknowledges the sacrifices she has to make in order to get “at least something done.” Even with her commitment to Club Blue and familial pressures to complete her applications, Martinez perseveres with a positive attitude.

“The time crunch is really getting to me; the weight of college essays is a little nerve-wracking, but I know I’ll do my best,” Martinez said. “It felt intense since my parents have been pressuring me to have my applications submitted a week before their actual due dates.” 

After a year of distance learning, some BVH seniors express that the pandemic affected their experience with college applications. As COVID-19 is still present, there are new requirements for this year’s graduating class of 2022, including the test-optional and test-blind policies. 

When I first heard about colleges changing their testing requirements I was relieved because I had signed up to take the SAT multiple times and every time it was canceled. If requirements didn’t change I wouldn’t have known what to do.” Millan said. 

In contrast, some seniors found themselves unprepared for the college application season because of the year-long quarantine. After an abrupt change in their sophomore year to distance-learning continuing through the end of their junior year, students didn’t have the opportunity to adjust to the workload that they now receive as seniors. 

“Although the busy schedules interfere heavily with the time I have to work on college essays and regular school work, I know it will be okay because I’ll find a way to get things done!” Martinez said.