College App Process Made Too Complicated


Graphic By William Gangnath

In response to recent hazing allegations and then charges for five JV football players at Damascus, all athletic directors held a meeting with fall athletes that reviewed MCPS hazing policies.

Now that seniors have submitted apps for the first deadlines, the class of 2018 is spotlighting a number of issues they encountered during the process such as conflicting information about the application process and deadlines.

Applying to college is the pinnacle of a four-year high school workload, often filled with numerous AP and IB courses.  The application process is packed with an overload of information about documents to fill out, what the process is and what students need to do to set themselves apart.

While seniors are offered many resources to help them navigate the college application process, it would be more helpful if they received the same information from every place, which is often not the case. Students receive information from counselors, visiting college reps, MCPS, friends and teachers.  The amount of information is difficult to sift through, let alone understand.

MCPS should ensure that students are provided clear information and offered proper training as they attempt to complete this important process.

Packets of deadlines and checklists that are distributed to students do not always match, leaving many important questions left unanswered. Seniors are understandably panicking as they try to prepare for their fast approaching deadlines.  Every student has different deadlines and each school has different requirements, so it can be difficult to know exactly how to go about applying to each school.

“There has been concern among counselors at both the high-school and college level that the admissions process is too frenzied for most students,” an Oct. 7 2016 Washington Post article noted.

Counselors should offer each senior one-on-one meetings to talk about their specific college applications and their requirements so that no one feels behind in the process which has many steps and moving parts.  Furthermore, these meetings can reassure students that colleges have many different requirements and the number of rigorous courses alone will not determine a student’s acceptance or rejection.

A Harvard Graduate School of Education report, “Turning the Tide,” cites New York Times columnist Frank Bruni who says in a 2015 op-ed that the admissions process warps the values of students drawn into a competitive frenzy which can jeopardize their mental health, and asks colleges to send a clear message that admissions officers won’t be impressed by more than a few Advanced Placement courses.

While the counseling department’s recent efforts are commendable as they launched an effort to familiarize younger students–including freshmen–with Naviance, MCPS needs to prioritize creating a more personalized system to guide students on the process when they experience it as seniors.  Counselors should be offered additional training on the various types of apps such as the Common app and Coalition so more workshops in addition to the essay writing one can be offered to seniors.

With the college application season still fresh on many seniors, counselors and parents’ minds, now is a good time for MCPS to solicit feedback on which workshops students need most and how to improve the overall application process. The time is now to apply themselves for this worthy endeavor.