Don’t stress yourself out: prepare for college early

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It’s the moment you’ve been dreaming of since you took your first steps through the door that promised opportunity and maturity. The door that turned you from a “middle schooler” to a “high schooler” and the place you went from being a frightened freshman to a sassy sophomore, and now a jubilant junior embarking on the senior year cruise that will leave you at the destination you have worked so hard to get to: college.

But are we really doing enough to be properly prepared for all that the college process entails? Does senior year live up to the expectations we set forth as lowly freshman, or is drowning prospective juniors in college preparation burning them out before they even get a chance the seize the moment?

The question of whether or not it is beneficial to start the college process early has its share of answers. On the one hand, it leaves room to enjoy senior year without added pressure, but on the other, it involves adding stress during junior year.

Townsend Harris guidance counselor Ms. Cheryl Kramer highly recommends for students to explore colleges early and even suggests they take challenging classes beginning freshman year.

“I always suggest students visit colleges, especially if they are going on a family vacation. At least you get the chance to see different types of schools and figure out what you like.”

Senior Dennise Fernandez agreed and said that looking back, she is relieved that she started the process early because it has given her the chance to relax senior year.

“I never understood why people tell students not to take the SAT in the fall of junior year. I took it in November and and it made it easier so that I didn’t get overwhelmed.”

According to research conducted in an article about preparing early for college, Jason Ma, a Forbes contributor, interviewed students who received help from his guidance program and 9 out of 10 said if they had the opportunity, they would have started preparing earlier. Similarly, a big way to standout to Ivy Leagues, as well as other big name colleges, is to exhibit leadership qualities and organization, two things made easier when one takes the initiative to begin this grueling process.

Juniors Wanly Chen and Judy Kwon said they took the SAT at the beginning of junior year and believe it has and will help them stay on task as far as college preparation goes.

“You might as well get it done early. It is nice to have the choice,” says Judy.

Additionally Wanly said, “We need to prepare for it, but it really depends on how much you care.”

Despite still getting familiar with life as a high school student, some underclassmen also agree that preparing early seems like something they will consider.

Sophomores Frankie Nicolazzi and Robert Davydov both said they plan on taking the SAT early in junior year because they think it will make things a lot easier and less overwhelming.

“If you don’t start now you will end up struggling to see every school you want and your decision will be that much harder,” says Frankie. Although he isn’t positive what he wants to study in college, he says preparing early is “beneficial.”

In spite of many that agree preparing early is substantially beneficial, junior Danielle Dominguez argues that it can be very overwhelming.

“With all the SAT’s, ACT’s, college recommendations, and rave sheets it’s hard to study for my actual classes and make sure I keep up the grades colleges will see on my transcript.” She continued, “I think if we weren’t given deadlines in June for Naviance and rave sheets it would make things easier and I would be able to focus more on my assigned schoolwork.

No matter the decision made by the teachers or the students, one thing is certain: the overwhelming process that we all dread now, according to senior Adam Strumpf, allows the end to justify the means.

“I’m happy with where I am going and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?”

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