Stress and Success: Choosing a College


Celebrating Virtually: Many schools, such as Lynn university, are sending out digital acceptance letters to students like Grace Tavitian. Photo courtesy: Grace Tavitian. January 12, 2022.

Katharine Harrison, Content Editor

     “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” While this is a famous quote by author Charles Dickens, it may also be an almost perfect description of how seniors feel entering the new semester. Rolling in with the snow is a flurry of college acceptance letters, and the need to make a difficult decision: Seniors must choose what college to attend.

     According to College and Career counselor Mrs. Melissa Wunder, “The most common concerns are: ‘will I get accepted to my top school and can I afford to attend?’ That is why it is important to do your research early and visit colleges both virtually and in person.

     Art for Seniors teacher Ms. Emily Plude says she can see the stress radiating off of her students.

     “The vibe surrounding seniors is about 20% calmer than October. There is still a raised level of anxiety I’ve been seeing as acceptances are coming in and decisions must be made involving Early Decision,” says Plude. 

     Plude adds that she hopes to continue “having open dialogue with [her] students so [she] can share [her] experiences and ease [the students’] anxiety.”

     “I’m going to Gateway, first because it’s close to my family and I didn’t want to go super far, and secondly I feel like going to college is really expensive and Gateway offers the same education without putting me into student debt, because I really want to graduate without a lot of debt,” says Senior Jileiny Gonzalez.

     Gonzalez hopes to become a pediatric nurse after completing her nursing education at SCSU because she cares a lot about children, explaining that the ability to help people feel better makes her feel good. Gonzalez plans to attend Gateway for two years and then transfer to Southern to complete her degree.

     Wunder echoes Gonzalez’s thoughts on the financial side of college and believes that students and parents must discuss “a realistic college budget” and figure out what they “can reasonably afford to spend on school.” According to her, being proactive in these conversations “will save a lot of heartaches.”

     Wunder also discusses the importance of students choosing a school that they believe could make them happy, is the right distance from home, has a strong academic support and career counseling system, and has athletics or extracurriculars that pique their interest.

     She highlights the importance of class size: “Do you want a big school with lecture hall type classes, or are you someone who does better with small class sizes and a more intimate environment?”

     Additionally, internships and study abroad programs can also be important to consider. Wunder explains that internships are important for future job prospects, and if “expanding your horizons and exploring other countries interests you,” students should ensure those opportunities are available at the college they choose.

     “Finally,” Wunder concludes, “make sure the school you chose has the major that you wish to study.”

     All of these decisions can be overwhelming; however, some students are feeling more excitement than stress. 

     Senior Grace Tavitian shares, “I am excited about all of my acceptances so far. It is getting me ready and in the right mindset to prepare for college.”

     Tavitian has been accepted to 10 schools so far, all of which were in Florida. She says that she applied to Florida schools because her aunt went to college in Florida and enjoyed her time there. 

     She continues, “When discussing it with my family, I knew that I wanted to go somewhere warmer… the schools in Florida fit my interests as well as my level of academics.”

     Right now, Tavitian’s top choice for college is Florida State, where her aunt went to school. She’s also considering Lynn University.

     When making these decisions, she shares, “I’ve been selecting and ruling out schools mainly by talking with my family,” adding that they are “the only people who know me almost as much as I do.”

     Tavitian says that her family has considered aspects such as size, cost, majors, and her academic standing in relation to that of each school.

     Darlene Tavitian, Grace Tavitian’s mother, shares that she thinks attending college in Florida will be an exciting experience for her daughter.

     “I think this is a new adventure for Grace and the beginning of the next chapter in her life,” says Darlene Tavitian.

     She also believes that during this process, “parents can support their child by being engaged, working with them on the Common App to help them narrow down their search based on their specific criteria and needs.”

     She adds that it is important for parents to back their children by, “preparing them for both rejection and acceptances.”

     She shares that throughout the application process, both herself and her husband, John, helped her by researching colleges and financing applications Grace could not obtain waivers for, as well as by motivating her to apply for scholarships.

     “But ultimately,” Darlene Tavitian concludes, “it’s just being there to support her, as this is the first big decision she has to make, and to know she’s supported in the process.”