Seniors Look Back on the College Process

by Lauren Fogelstrom '15

A shot of the USC campus. (Photo: Wikipedia)

A shot of the USC campus. (Photo: Wikipedia)

With only around two months of school left, the class of 2014 is beginning to make college decisions and has come to the end of their college process. A few members of the graduating class spoke to CatlinSpeak about how the process went for them, and had some advice for rising juniors and seniors.

Mary Whitsell ’14 has been accepted to USC and will enroll there next fall. She said, “I couldn’t be happier to attend USC next year, FIGHT ON!” Another senior, Thomas Newlands ’14, is still deciding between California College of the Arts and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but initially applied to six other colleges. Both students have similar advice, but had very different experiences during the actual process.

At the beginning of junior year, Whitsell thought the perfect school for herself included a big city and a mid to large-sized school population.

Although USC fits these criteria, her counselor also urged her to apply to Whitman College, a much smaller liberal arts school, and she said she, “was really happy [she] considered it.” Because of this encounter, she commented, “I wished that I had kept a more open mind about schools that I did not originally see myself at.”

For Newlands, it was more the juggle of high school and college work that made the process more involved than he expected. Since most art schools require an art supplement along with an application, he had to gather art pieces from all of his art classes and combine them into a portfolio that expressed his style and level of expertise. He said, “It was challenging to step back and analyze the work I’d done over four years of high school.”

Furthermore, since Newlands applied to all of his colleges by the regular deadline, rather than early, school finals and applications together added further anxiety.

He admitted, “Ultimately putting them off gave me time to put together a stronger portfolio, but I could have saved quite a bit of stress by applying early to some of my university or liberal arts options.”

In general though, both agreed that applying early decision or early action was (or would have been) extremely helpful. Whitsell said that one of the best decisions she made during the process was applying early to schools that she was happy with and fairly confident she could get into. “It is a huge relief when in November you can say you are going to college!” she said.

Final thoughts from both Whitsell and Newlands to rising juniors and seniors were positive and encouraging. Whitsell said, “Be happy for yourself wherever you get in and don’t let rejection letters tarnish your accomplishments.” Likewise, Newlands commented, “I think it’s healthier to live in the moment and focus on enjoying high school, figuring out what you like and trying new things. The best preparation for college process for me had nothing to do with college itself.”