The Webb community needs to support the seniors now more than ever


Kaylynn Chang

The college application process for upperclassmen can be an overwhelming process. It often feels as if there are a multitude of things to complete in order to even qualify for college, not to mention the competition and uncertainty of the process. Those who are applying to college often need to allocate more time to complete applications, additional exams, and continue to get good grades, which is already a lot on its own.

“Where are you applying to college?”
“What do you want to do in the future?”
“How do you feel about college?”
“Why do you want to go to college?”
“Who, really, are you?”

Do not ask these questions.

Around this time of year, seniors are barraged with the same questions about their college applications from friends and family alike, which may not be the highlight of their day. It is already enough juggling schoolwork along with preparations for college. There is a lot to balance and a lot of expectations to be met.

Here at Webb, it is no different. Courses are supposed to be challenging, work takes longer, and students are competitive.

“Webb puts a lot of pressure on [college] which I get, and there is a lot of pressure to keep up with it and you want to do good because everyone else is trying their best, so it does get a little competitive,” Dillon Anabi (‘22) said.

The college application process is a complicated one, and there are so many components that seniors need to keep in mind in order to complete the entire application. Seniors are making important choices and they might feel like everything is happening at once.

“Relax,” Anthony Shin, Associate Director of College Guidance, said. “It seems like there is a lot to do very suddenly all at once, but on the flipside, there is no rush or race to be the first to apply. There is a lot of time to take care of stuff if you treat the application process bit by bit.”

Personal statements, supplemental essays, and interviews are all things seniors must keep in mind, and they have not been easy for them to navigate, especially with the limitations of COVID-19.

Returning to campus this year introduces a new environment where seniors are expected to take on everything at once while maintaining an ideal balance that will not burn them out; there are more responsibilities to manage, and they are feeling the pressure to keep up with it all.

“I do feel stressed mainly due to time-management with my work and balancing everything with college essays,” William Ma (‘22) said.

In 2014, the American Psychological Association conducted a study in order to gather information on stress levels among high school students. It was found that the average stress level for teens was around 5.8 on a 10-point scale, 0.7 points higher than most adults. Many have also reported suffering physical and mental consequences as well due to the adverse effects of being overstressed.

Furthermore, teens tend to underreport stress, as most students may be accustomed to the expectations of the vigorous workload they are expected to take on without much room for flexibility.
Teachers should recognize that college application season takes a toll on the senior class. This year will be no different. The Webb experience coupled with the added stress of this time period is an overwhelming combination.

“They have a lot of pressure and anxiety to the process, as it is kind of forced upon them,” Brian Caldwell, mathematics department faculty member, said. “It’s similar to running a marathon; do as much as you can before you finish.”

The community should focus more on how to aid students in achieving their best work while navigating through external factors. In fact, many teachers have taken college application season into consideration and have made adjustments accordingly to how they teach and assign homework.

“In other years, I have considered [college season] as well, but even outside college applications, I think seniors appreciate little homework,” Arielle Brosh, humanities department faculty, said. “I expect that sometimes they might not have finished their homework, so I try to center my classes around more in-class work instead.”

However, things can be difficult, as many aspects of learning have changed since we’ve come back to campus. Some classes have reworked their grading systems, creating additional difficulty.

“Teachers should not implement standards-based grading in humanities all of a sudden” Arshia Sazi (‘22) said. “We want good grades for college, but standards-based grading means that our grade can be dependent on one paper.”

Teachers should be ready more than ever to support students when needed, and students should also take the initiative to prioritize their work and clearly communicate their needs to faculty. During this time where you may feel everything is coming at once, it is hard to accept advice that tells you to slow down and take time. But sometimes, that is the best thing we can do.

The community should help with the little things to ease the pressure looming over the heads of many students. Consciously implementing this kind of approach may be beneficial in the end for everyone. Yes, school is supposed to prepare students for the future, but we should also keep in mind how we can alleviate the small difficulties whenever possible.

Parents, friends, and even individuals should be conscious of what seniors are going through in the next few months and support them in any way they can. Most of the time, stress is magnified by those who are close to us, and whether intentional or not, it can be extremely taxing for the recipient of this added stress. Make an effort to create as comfortable of an environment as possible for the seniors in the coming months.

“Personally, I don’t mind [when people ask me about college],” Dillon said. “But I know some people tend to be bothered by it, and I can see how it can get frustrating. Especially if you find it super stressful, it just reminds you of it.”

Seniors are experiencing pressure from many directions, so all members of the community should be understanding. Whether if you are a teacher considering assigning extra reading or an underclassman too curious about college season, make sure to keep in mind the seniors, who are already working hard during their last year of school.