In the times of COVID-19, the already stressful process of college applications was brought to an extreme. High school seniors were unable to visit most of their prospective colleges, and remote learning combined with a lack of standardized testing led to uncertainty like never before.

For senior Brooke Byrne, the application process was more stressful than she could have imagined.

“There were so many unexpected additions and worries added to the process,” said Byrne, “such as the worry of whether or not to send test scores, deferrals and waitlists, and schools protecting their yield more than ever.”

Colleges received more applications than ever before, some reaching over 100,000 applicants, aided by the test-optional approach many schools took following wide-spread test cancellations due to the pandemic. This made acceptance rates go down, and the stress levels of applicants go up.

“This year also destroyed the terms ‘safety schools’, ‘target schools’, and ‘reach schools’,” said Byrne. “Many safeties became targets, targets became reaches, and reaches became nearly impossible.”

Due to this uncertainty, many adjusted the plans that they may have had throughout their high school experience. Some decided not to submit test scores, others applied to more schools due to the uneasiness of COVID-era applications.

“I applied to nine schools, which is more than I had expected I would,” said senior Erica Biegel. “I had to apply to a variety of different schools just to make sure I had options.”

After years of hard work, immersing themselves in extracurricular activities, and studying for hours in preparation for standardized tests, the pandemic made the anxiety of college applications reach a height.

“COVID has made the college process ten times more stressful than I could’ve ever imagined,” said Byrne. “We had absolutely no idea what would happen and this year was so unlike any other.”

Many felt that this stress comes from the pressure of trying to make the right decision.

“It affected my stress levels a lot,” said senior Wallis Brune. “I had this massive responsibility that determined a huge part of the rest of my life.”

The college application process, combined with the normal stressors of everyday life in high school, caused many to have anxiety.

“This was all on top of everyday stresses I already had pre-application process,” said Brune.

As commitment deadlines pass and Warde’s Class of 2021 has figured out their future plans, even with all the troubles of applying during a pandemic, many are happy with their decisions, and excited for what is to come.

“It was a rough process but I’m glad with how it all turned out,” said Biegel.

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