Giving truth to Memphis youth
By Thea Wilkens-Reed (Homeschooled)
The senior year of high school is a critical time for aspiring college freshmen.
The process begins in the junior year and continues until that coveted acceptance letter arrives in your mailbox.
Students who are fast-approaching college must begin the long journey of writing college essays, filling out the common application, seeking recommendations and many other things in hopes of being accepted to the school of their dreams.
On top of all this, students are expected to maintain high grades, be involved in their community, accrue service hours, and prepare for the SAT or ACT.
With all this extra work and immense pressure, students are suddenly overwhelmed with extra stress.
One serious stress-related issue is testing. Some students are excellent at coursework, but when it comes to testing, they choke up and are unable to perform as well as they normally do.
Sierra-Skye Olson, a freshman at the University of Memphis said, “The hardest part of the pre-college process for me was dealing with my ACT score and how it affected what school I would go to money-wise. It’s hard, especially for someone like me who doesn’t test well, to believe your future is resting on this one standardized test.”
With colleges now looking at students’ resumes, grades, community work and recommendations, applicants are working themselves silly to obtain all that is necessary to impress colleges.
Grade point averages are a huge thing when admission committees determine who they will accept into their institutions too.
Students trying to raise their GPA must seriously focus on studying the material taught in class for exams.
Suddenly they realize that GPAs are built from the ninth grade up and can not be easily raised at this point.
They become consumed with completing applications that are fast approaching their due date and writing meaningful college essays that will set them apart from the thousands of other students applying to that college.
Another factor causing stress is that college is expensive. Unless someone is awarded a full scholarship or has wealthy parents, the scramble is on for funding. Although scholarships are available, the bad news is that most programs require additional applications. Once students have applied and submitted their work, the question remains, have they significantly set themselves apart from all the others trying for the scholarship? Even if they fit the criteria to a “T,” students are still likely to be one of a number of other applicants that share similar grades, goals, activities, and aspirations.
Montreal Beverly, now at Southwest Tennessee Community College, reflected on his last two years of high school and said, “While in my junior year I felt this big weight on my shoulders because I wanted to find a good college to go to. I really tired myself out because I wanted my senior year to go great, so I worked so hard that I couldn’t enjoy school. Later into my junior year I knew college time was coming up so I really cracked down. I used to stress about small things like reading up on colleges and going to different campuses and things like that. I was also managing a job at Wendy’s so I had a bunch of additional stress.”
There are several tips to help seniors in high school: Start early, do not procrastinate and keep in mind that graduation is right around the corner.
One new option that could take away stress from seniors is the new Tennessee Promise Scholarship. With no grade point average or ACT score stipulation, the scholarship is available to any high school senior who is a Tennessee resident.
It provides tuition for two years at a junior college or certain trade schools in Tennessee, but it has to be applied for by Nov. 1 of a student’s senior year. If transferring to a four-year college (with good grades) students could possibly rely on the Hope scholarship to fund their junior and senior years at the institution of their choice.
The key to managing the stress from considering all of the options for post-graduation is to start early. Students need to maintain good grades, but not be disheartened if they do not have those, just be realistic when setting expectations. Attend college fairs, speak with current students, talk to teachers, adults, anyone and build connections. One of the main aspects of college and job applications, is ‘What makes you stand out from the crowd?’
Get involved with the community, get involved with school clubs, play sports, focus on extra curricular activities. These are the years where students can mould themselves and do some character building. Students should do something outside of their comfort zone. Good grades are just one aspect of a college application. Granted, they are needed, but if someone is looking at a student’s application versus someone with exactly the same grades, what is that little bit extra which will make him or her stand out? Start now.