Reality vs. Expectations: BHS seniors reflect on college app process

Madison Arnold, Junior Editor

You’re In! These are the big bold letters seniors expect on their acceptance letter. However, is this the school they would end up at? And what happens if they’re waitlisted?

Biddeford High School seniors have discovered that applying to college isn’t what they expected.

The application process is an extremely important part of senior year, and it brings together a culmination of all of the hard work and involvement seniors have completed throughout four years in high school. Being waitlisted or denied is a prevalent part of applying to college, even though it’s not talked about and no one will prepare seniors for it. Seniors at Biddeford High School want to dive into this issue.

“I wish I knew to be less cocky,” said senior Addison Moore. “Sure, you may be smart and a wickedly well-rounded student, but if you’re applying to top colleges that are super competitive, there’s tons of other kids who will look just like you on paper, and that’s not what makes you special.”

Moore isn’t alone. Many other hard-working seniors applied to certain colleges only to be waitlisted or even rejected.

“I’m not really going where I thought I’d end up,” said senior Maggie Behen. “I was expecting that the top schools in my final decision making process to be [where I’d be].”

To many Biddeford students, applying to top notch schools seems completely unattainable, despite competitive SAT scores, being involved, and being in the top 10 of their class.

“I was denied at four different schools, and I did expect it,” said senior Damien Haynes. “These four schools were my ‘reach schools’ already, and given the caliber of the schools, three were Ivy League, I knew I was basically putting my name in a lottery when I applied. I went in expecting a denial.”

Behen also relates, as she is third in the senior class and a competitive, well-rounded candidate that also applied to Ivy League schools.

I got denied from five schools, and I was not shocked,” said Behen.

There are certain measures seniors can take to help distinguish their application, but there truly are no guarantees. A lot of students will utilize an online resource, Khan Academy. This outlet provides students will practice for tests such as the SAT, ACT, and AP exams.

“I took the SAT twice. My highest score was the first time I took it. I prepared much more the first time, using Khan Academy,” said Haynes. “I linked my PSAT scores to Khan, and using the data that it gave me I maxed out every skill that wasn’t already at max on the website. I also took two full practice test in the weekends leading up to the SAT, which were also provided by Khan.”

Haynes said if he could give any advice, he would say to start on your applications as soon as possible. The application process is very timely and stressful when seniors are down to the wire.

“It pays to apply early. I was still fixing my application in the week leading up to the deadline, and that’s stressful, as it takes away from homework time and gives you late nights,” said Haynes. “If you get it done early, it can all be out of the way right at the beginning of the year, so it doesn’t conflict with anything else in your life.”

Looking back, Haynes said he also wished he knew that applying early can actually affect your chances of being accepted or not. The expectations colleges place on students can be very overwhelming.

“The things competitive colleges expect students to do is insane—be able to hold a job, get perfect or near perfect grades, take AP and honors everything, do sports, volunteer, do clubs and extracurricular activities, be active in your community, have an internship, and more—and to not get into one of these schools doesn’t make you any less intelligent or involved, it just means you aren’t a literal superhuman,” said Moore.

After enduring the process and coming out on the other side, Moore offers wisdom to upcoming seniors in coming years.

“My advice to future seniors is don’t stress about colleges. You probably won’t go where you’re expecting to go, but that’s okay,” said Moore. “I believe there’s a plan for everyone and sometimes that doesn’t include your every single hope and dream, and that’s okay.”