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Seniors apply and await judgment

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The options to consider may seem endless when considering a college, but early planning will help alleviate some of the stress.

The options to consider may seem endless when considering a college, but early planning will help alleviate some of the stress.

Alex Cole

Alex Cole

The options to consider may seem endless when considering a college, but early planning will help alleviate some of the stress.

Russ Conroy, Guest writer

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It is a distant world filled with unfamiliar people and unfamiliar places. It is where one finds himself far away from home, refining his sense of independence as he navigates this new world. It is where one enters a new chapter in life, preparing him for the opportunities that may await him in the future.

Many upcoming high school graduates are preparing for the next phase of their educations by applying to a variety of colleges and universities across the country. In the case of Hillsborough High School, many seniors are looking to improve their chances at getting into their schools of choice by applying as soon as possible under options such as early action deadlines.

“Students are applying earlier and earlier,” Hillsborough High School’s College & Career Counselor Aimee Thomson said. According to Thomson, approximately 65% of Hillsborough students have applied to colleges as of Thanksgiving.

Each college is unique in what they have to offer to prospects in regards to academic programs, athletic opportunities, and campus lifestyles, among other factors. With countless schools in all kinds of sizes and styles, there is probably a university to fit any student’s needs. Some colleges (as well as majors), however, are more popular among high school seniors than others. In Hillsborough High School, there have been noticeable trends as to which schools seniors tend to set their sights upon.

“The ones that are most popular so far this year are Boston University and Carnegie Mellon University,” Thomson said. The in-state Rutgers University is also a popular option among applicants this year, as it has been in the past.

“We always have 200 to 250 who apply to Rutgers each year,” Thomson said.

In addition to college application trends, certain majors and courses of studies seem to fare better in terms of popularity compared to others. This year, many Hillsborough seniors are leaning towards STEM related fields for careers.

“Various engineering majors, computer sciences, and general sciences [constituted the most favored options for college applicants],” Thomson said. “Pretty much not a day goes by without a student applying to those majors.”

After conducting a survey among college-bound seniors in Hillsborough High School, the results generally correlated with the information that Thomson had given. The respondents’ answers indicate that geography and university proximity may have played a part in their selection of schools. Rutgers University was the most common school that respondents had applied to, while other northeastern colleges such as the University of Pittsburgh, Boston University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Delaware were also popular choices.

Despite these trends, some respondents opted to apply to lesser known schools, especially ones that offered uncommon majors that fit their specific tastes. Senior Olivia Campanelli, for example, applied to schools such as Cedar Crest College, the University of New Haven, and Pace University, which offered her preferred major.

“Forensic science is a pretty scarce major, so these colleges are pretty upstanding institutions that actually have my desired major,” Campanelli said.

Besides preferred majors and specific college destinations, Hillsborough seniors are looking forward to college for a number of other reasons. Among the surveyed respondents, some students said that they were excited to gain more educational experience. Most respondents, however, stated that they were most looking forward to meeting new people as well as living by themselves. Kyle Rich, one Hillsborough senior, said that he was looking forward to being independent and figuring out the world around him.

College, while a new and unfamiliar experience for the seniors who are graduating this June, is a place that has filled many of them with excitement. While high school seniors from Hillsborough and towns around the country are anticipating the new opportunities that wait for them in college, there are plenty of factors for them to keep in mind as they apply to their desired schools. As students browse through countless universities and potential majors, keeping other ideas in consideration may make their application process easier.

“Read everything about financial aid,” Thomson said. “I hate to see people say ‘oops, I forgot to apply for financial aid’ by the time April arrives.”

In fact, students can make life easier for themselves by planning for college ahead of time. While senior year is the time for finalizing plans and reaching out to preferred colleges, one can improve their chances by making the most of their four years at high school.

“Basically, the time to start preparing is when you first get here,” Thomson said. “You can’t go back and redo things for freshman year. Your GPA starts in freshman year, and once it gets lower, you can’t go back and change it.”

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