Senior College Stress

Jackie O’Brien and Aubrey O’Flynn

Jackie O'Brien & Aubrey O'Flynn, Journalist

With deadlines looming just around the corner, seniors are scrambling to complete their applications and stay on top of schoolwork. In addition to all of this, the pandemic has not made things any easier. Financial situations and mask mandates have had lasting effects on everyone. This stress has been a common theme throughout the senior class, as well as among teachers and parents. 

Not only have we had conversations about this stress, but research backs this up as well. According to NCBI, “Out of 195 participants, 138 (71%) indicated that their stress and anxiety had increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas 39 (20%) indicated it remained the same and 18 (9%) mentioned that the stress and anxiety had actually decreased.” Evidently, more than half of participants in this study felt that their stress levels had increased. Quarantine was also a large component of the pandemic that affected many people’s mental health. Human interaction is so important, so isolation caused many to develop mental issues that led to increasing stress and anxiety. 

Many families faced financial issues due to the pandemic, as numerous jobs were lost and businesses had shut down. Pressure on families rose and an article states, “ Among lower-income adults, 46% say they have had trouble paying their bills since the pandemic started and roughly one third (32%) say it’s been hard for them to make rent or mortgage payments. About one-in-five or fewer middle-income adults have faced these challenges, and the shares are substantially smaller for those in the upper-income tier.” Although these struggles apply to all in the pandemic, it especially targets those of certain race, ethnicity, and income. 

At Ipswich High School, students have been enduring these same feelings of anxiety. A present student, Claire O’Flynn, shared her experience this year. When asked what stresses her out the most about college, she responded, “It is unpredictable with the pandemic. I am not sure I will find the right place for me.” She also mentioned that she has to keep up with her other commitments, like classes and sports. She also expressed concern over other dilemmas outside of school. Her family, counselors, friends, and herself all have different ideas of where she should apply, which can add more stress. Although it has been a nerve-filled experience, covid has opened up some opportunities. She says, “It has opened up a lot because of test optional schools. I am applying to places I would not have before because I am not limited by my test scores.” On the other hand, Claire says she has toured less schools then she anticipated due to travel restrictions. Also, seniors had a different experience last year with the pandemic, so there are lower acceptance rates to schools. This makes it hard to tell and base applications off of past statistics. Claire is a perfect example of a hard working, organized student, who has been affected by the pandemic and the stress of college applications. 

During this time, it is not only the seniors that have an abundance of stress. Guidance counselors also have a lot of work to do. Ms. Powers, a guidance counselor at Ipswich High, helped us understand the stresses of what counselors go through. Like most students, school work does not stop while college planning is happening. Ms. Powers stated how this time is extremely busy for counselors and teachers. For her, the average recommendation letter takes an hour and for the November first deadlines, she had to write seventeen. That means she has spent seventeen hours so far. Not only does she have to get her own letters done but she needs to meet with all the students that need her help to look over transcripts, be as accurate as possible, and make sure all teachers asked for recommendation letters get theirs in. This past year has been very different due to Covid. “With less students touring colleges, the college process has started later for most students.” Ms. Powers told us. Overall she has seen kids become more anxious over college because of Covid. 

Senior stress has risen dramatically as college decisions and applications loom around the corner. Not only students, but everyone has all been affected by Covid so far. Whether it be financial issues, not being able to tour colleges, or the overall application processes starting later, these all factor into why this time has been so stressful.