the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
After a long and confusing past year and a half, Sixth Formers are beginning to submit their college applications. Some already know which schools they will be attending; some plan on meeting the October 15th and November 1st early decision (ED) and early action (EA) deadline; and some plan on waiting until January 1st to submit their application for regular decision. Through all of this, one question lingers: how the hell did we get here?
It seems only yesterday that we drove up the windy hill on a beautiful late summer day. Even leaving campus for the spring of 2020 feels so recent. During those times, none of us were even pondering our college future. These were also at the times where test scores held a larger impact.
The process itself is unique to every person. Many spent their summers traveling to various schools, getting a feel for the atmosphere and if they actually wanted to apply there. It is important to step on the campus of a school before you apply. If one cannot see themself at a certain school, why apply? Once you decide to apply to a school and make it to the Common App website, you learn even more about some of the schools on your list.
There are many strategic aspects to the application. Applying ED or EA gives students a better chance at getting into a certain school; however, ED is a binding decision and would force you to attend if accepted. Demonstrated interest also serves a student well. Schools keep track of who takes a tour, attends virtual events, and who reaches out to school representatives. Due to the amount of qualified applicants they receive, schools do not want to admit students who they do not feel are interested in being at their school.
Many schools have their own supplemental questions which ask you to reflect on a certain event or personality trait, providing them with more information about you and your story. However, these supplements also provide an opportunity for students to learn more about what the schools value most in their students. For example, the University of Maryland asks students — what is the most interesting fact you've learned from research? Wake Forest University asks prospective students to make a top ten list of anything they feel is important to them.
Now, only a few schools require test scores and most are lenient on whether scores are even submitted. Everyone takes the pandemic into account and some schools even have supplemental questions asking students what they did to entertain themselves during quarantine. Everyone has a different story and it is important for schools to hear each and every one.
The same is true with the main Common App essay question. All Sixth Formers are (hopefully) nearly done with their essays and have submitted them to their college counselors. These essays reflect events that Sixth Formers feel shape their lives and make them the person they are today. These events can range from simple memories to life changing events; everyone has a different story to tell.
Unfortunately, for us Sixth Formers, due to the sheer amount of applications they receive, admissions officers spend an average of eight minutes on each application. This seems very unfair to students who spend hours perfecting every bit of their application. Sometimes, officers don’t even make it to the parts students feel are the most important. This is what makes the process so competitive — every bit of the application must be as close to perfect as possible to ensure that the admissions officer who reads the application likes what they see.
By the time this article is published, Sixth Formers will have completed their college day. This is a day in which no one goes to class and we all sit down with our counselors to review their applications. This means that a large chunk of the Sixth Formers will have submitted their applications by the end of this week.