And now we wait…

Seniors reflect on the college admissions proccess while awaiting final decisions


Valentina Gauld (middle) at a summer program at the University of Cambridge

Diane Chung and Tolu Adewumi

For four years, seniors have worked vigorously in preparation for college. After studying for exams, writing countless essays, and meeting with college counselors, most seniors have finished submitting all of their applications.

With the stress of college applications behind them, seniors can now kick back their feet and relax, right? 

With the extra time he has, Valedictorian Will Gansereit says, “I haven’t been doing anything crazy, mainly wasting time and trying to relax these past couple months.” 

Gansereit’s stress has gone down as he has realized that “the process is random to an extent and is completely out of [his] hands.” 

Senior, Mia Shaw, however, says she is still busy with scholarship applications, honors programs, and leadership institutions. 

“These applications take my mind off of thinking about decisions, and by the time decisions roll around, I’m already mentally accepting the outcome,” Shaw says. 

Along with the anticipation of decisions, seniors also face nostalgia as they are constantly reminded of their fleeting time left at Mount Pisgah. 

“It’s sad because we don’t get a lot of things like Alpha Omega, which I remembered doing as a kindergartener,” Shaw says. “But the first semester is still very nostalgic, and I have to work hard to keep my grades up.”

Challenging classes continue to be at the forefront of students’ minds. 

Committed senior, Happy Chane, says “AP Physics, football, and wrestling have kept me busy.”

With their brains fried from academics and their bodies sore from athletics, seniors still feel the infamous senioritis kick in. 

“Senioritis has kicked in high gear just because this year has already been so hard, and it seems that there isn’t a ton to look forward to because everything is so uncertain [due to COVID-19],” Gansereit says. 

  “The first semester was very nostalgic, but the second semester is when the senioritis really kicks in, especially after being accepted in a college,” Chane adds.  

Chane recently committed to the University of Rochester to play football. As a student-athlete, Chane’s strategy to create a college list differed from his peers.

“I applied to four schools where I could just be a student and six schools where I could be a varsity athlete,” Chane says. 

“My advice to student-athletes is to put your education first by researching for schools that offer what you want to study, then contact the coaches to ask athletic questions,” Chane says.  

Although athletics influenced Chane’s decision, the class of 2021’s diverse aspirations has proved that many other factors are just as important—geography being one of them. 

  “Location was significant to me because I want to study international relations and want to be near the UN in New York or Washington D.C,” Shaw says.  

Senior Valentina Gauld applied to universities outside of the country. Gauld points out that the application process for schools abroad is starkly different than in the U.S. 

“Applying to schools abroad was more difficult because I had to research each college’s requirements to see if I was eligible to apply,” Gauld says. “I also had to make sure my personal essay was structured to match those submitted by British students since I’m competing with a very different group of applicants.”

Like Gauld, Senior Linger Gao also applied to schools internationally. Gao says that he had to start his application process earlier than his peers because Canadian application deadlines ended around October. 

“The pandemic is what made me apply in Canada because if I stayed in the states, I would not be able to go back and forth between my school and to see my family,” Gao says. 

With the student visa Gao has, he cannot return to the United States, even if he only leaves for the holidays, but luckily Canada does not have this restriction. Gao can visit his family without worrying about returning to school if he decides on a school in Canada. 

As an international student, this was important to Gao because he wanted to stay as close to his family as possible. 

Senior Skyler Kasselmann also wants to stay near her family. 

“My most important characteristics [for college] were size, location, and reputation,” Kasselmann says. “I want to stay closer to home, so I have mainly looked in the southeast.” 

Since Kasselmann’s prospective colleges are within driving distance, she was able to visit many campuses. 

“It makes a huge difference if you can see yourself living somewhere for the next four years,” Kasselmann says. 

She advises juniors to take as many college visits as possible because it is an eye-opening experience. 

“Even after doing research and seeing the website… [being] on campus is a completely different feel,” Kasselmann adds.

Shaw agrees that learning more about each school is important. 

“After making a solid list, take advantage of virtual events because more schools look at demonstrated interest,” Shaw says. 

Shaw also advises juniors to be confident in their lists and stay on top of other deadlines, specifically scholarships.

“Coach Norwood has written me more recommendations than I could think of, which has been tremendously helpful,” Shaw says. 

Seniors have appreciated the help and support they have received from other faculty members. 

Gansereit utilized the help of college counselors Susan Reilly and Diane Nardella.

Valedictorian Will Gansereit

“Their advice has helped me throughout this process because they are huge assets during the process, especially with my essay writing,” Gansereit says. “The best time to start essays is over the summer and create some type of plan because even though I started in June, I still had to write eight essays over Christmas break.”

As the seniors reflect on their application process, they think of advice they wish others had given them when they started applying. 

Chane appreciates Reilly’s help through this process and his parents’ support. He also felt that His relationship with God got stronger through the waiting process. 

“Prayer was stress relief for me and helped my anxiety because I prayed about where I should go and where He sees me doing my best,” Chane says. 

To help with his anxiety Linger Gao played video games and team sports, which helped keep his mind distracted. 

Gansereit had to remind himself about his mindset. 

“I had to go in with an open mind and be realistic because once I hit submit, I knew I had done everything I could, so I realized that stressing isn’t with it,” Gansereit says.

It is vital to keep a clear mind so that students can excel in their studies. 

“If you haven’t already, start practicing and studying for the SAT or ACT as most international schools are still requiring standardized tests,” Gauld adds. 

Valentina Gauld recommends that juniors try hard on their AP exams and push for the scores colleges look for since it can be beneficial in the future. 

With all of their preparation and hard work over with, seniors can now rest easy knowing they have put in the best effort in their applications. All they have left to do now is, well . . . wait.