A Stressful Step Toward the Future

For our Scripps Ranch High School column this year, four seniors share the writing duties. This allows the community to get “A Look Inside” SRHS and life as a teen from different and unique perspectives. This month Quinn Gorham looks at why this is a very stressful time of year for seniors. Quinn is editor in chief of the Falcon Flyer—the SRHS newspaper—a member of the Cross Country and Track teams, and an Eagle Scout.


From a young age, almost every Scripps Ranch student aspires to go to a college. But as we reach high school, it becomes increasingly evident that reaching college is not something that comes without an immense amount of work and struggle. I can’t even begin to count the number of nights I’ve spent staying up late trying to finish an assignment and study for an exam because my grade depended on it.

But the reward of all of that hard work is well worth the pain, as it will help to secure a spot in one of the top schools in the nation. Or will it? Today’s college admissions process is one of the most stressful things in one’s high school career. Since my parents applied to college until now, the admissions process has become harder, more competitive, and more stressful.

The college admissions process begins before one’s senior year even starts. The summer before junior year, students begin preparing for the SAT and/or the ACT. As the school year begins students continue this studying while also doing their schoolwork. This makes for an insane amount of stress and a very difficult school year. In fact, many consider junior year to be the hardest of all four years of high school. But the stress doesn’t end there.

In your junior year many students start getting inundated with emails, flyers, and letters from hundreds of schools (below, just a small sample). Not all come from schools a student may be interested in.

Then as senior year begins, students start the greatest task of all: college applications and essays. The amount of work put into a thoughtful college essay is much greater than one might think. I have friends who have spent more than a week on one application and its essay. But eventually, all of the applications are finished, and seniors can breathe a sigh of relief.

In an ideal world students would attend their favorite school. For many, however, that school may be far from reach. Many students are left disappointed after waiting months to enter their “dream” school.

But this is a fairly recent phenomenon. When my parents attended college, you could get into a school like San Diego State with a 3.0 high school grade point average (GPA) and no SAT score. Now, it is difficult to be admitted with a 3.5 GPA and an average SAT score.

Why the increase in difficulty? For starters, it is estimated that almost 60% of students nationwide will apply to a four-year university, up from only about 30% just 20 years ago. This increase in potential students forces colleges to make tough decisions. Also, the national average for yearly college tuition has multiplied by six in 20 years. Now, instead of having little to worry about economically, families must fret over how to earn that money before college in an effort to minimize parent and student loans, even if they are accepted to a college of their choice.

Despite the difficulty and higher stress level in the college admissions process, not much can be done to change it. All we can do is try our hardest. Parents, try to understand the level of stress your kids are going through. Kids, know that your parents only want the best for you. Everything will work out for the best, and the hard work will be worth it.

Quinn Gorham, SRHS Senior