With college application deadlines looming, we at the UltraViolet understand that the senior class is under a lot of stress. However, we believe that the seniors have reached a level of competition that is both completely unnecessary and detrimental to the emotional stability of the grade. Although it is understandable that seniors feel a lot of pressure to succeed in the college process, they should focus on being the best candidates for admission on an individual basis, not on ranking themselves against their peers.
Some seniors at Marlborough School have started openly discussing which of their classmates are applying to the same schools and trying to judge who will “beat” the other to admission. This is problematic on a number of levels. First, those engaged in this trend are disrespecting their classmates’ privacy: not all seniors want the destinations of their applications to be common knowledge. If a senior finds out where one of her classmates is applying, she should keep it to herself and not discuss it with others in the grade.
Additionally, when students gossip about the academic performance of their peers, even if they see it as some kind of strategic plan to maximize their chances of getting into college, it has the potential to be hurtful and only serves to make people more panicked about their chances of admission. No one wants to hear that her classmates think she does not perform well enough at Marlborough to merit admission to her top-choice college.
Lastly, the practice of discussing other peoples’ college prospects is thoroughly unproductive. The time that seniors spend calculating whether or not they are “better” or more eligible for a specific college than their classmates does not actually have any effect on their chances of getting in. Maybe it would affect where they choose to apply, but when these seniors base their rankings on whatever fragments of knowledge they happen to have about their classmates, they ignore the fact that college admissions is holistic: schools look at more than just an applicant’s grades and extracurricular activities. They look at family life, work experience, and teacher recommendations. Therefore, students have no way to accurately predict the likelihood of their peers’ (or their own) admission and should not waste their time trying.
Marlborough provides its students with access to excellent college resources, from our college counselors to many information sessions. Instead of comparing themselves to their classmates, students should take advantage of these resources to enhance their potential for acceptance as individual candidates and stop attempting to gain reassurance by figuratively placing themselves above their classmates.
The senior class can grow closer through the shared stress of the college process, but not if they insist on turning it into a cutthroat race to the top of the application stack.