Taking the road more traveled

As students begin to fear college decisions, some find comfort in familiar faces


As Pia Scotto, class of ‘17, walks into her first day at the University of Delaware, she is comforted knowing that four other alumni are attending school there, too. Scotto’s sister, Tasha Scotto, class of ‘14, also has friends that attend Delaware. Pia often asks them questions about the campus. She says that the ability to talk to other JC alumni, rather than “random people that [she] passes on [her] way to class,” is comforting.

Seniors are beginning to realize they will soon be in situations similar to Pia’s, as they flock in and out of their college counselors’ offices, stressing over upcoming deadlines and applications. Noting their anxiety, onlooking underclassmen begin to fear the college process quickly. “I hear my older friends talking [about college], and it makes me nervous,” junior Alex Leppert said.

Even though some underclassmen begin to fear college early, they might find comfort in knowing that many seniors attend the same colleges each year, the most popular being the University of South Carolina, the University of Maryland College Park, and the University of Delaware.

“I feel like it takes away some stress knowing people often go to the same college as other people, especially if you are in the same classes as them, but it is still a great opportunity to meet new people,” said junior Isabelle Schucker. Why do some seniors gravitate towards certain schools, and why might that relieve some stress about the college process from the underclassmen?

According to College Counselor Kelly Smith, she starts seeing many unnecessary fears arise in seniors during the fall of their senior year. “I think their biggest fear is actually submitting the application and then worrying about things they can’t control. They have to realize that they can’t go back to freshman and sophomore year and raise their GPA. It’s out of their hands,” Smith said.

Shelby John, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Bel Air, also interacts with many high school seniors who are experiencing the accumulating stress of the college application and decision process. “I think that the most common fears they have are being on their own for the first time and being in a new town or city away from family or friends. I also think a big part of it is having to do things on their own,” John said.

For some, college is the first time they are living independently from their parents. As a result, most college students have to acclimate to a variety of new tasks, such as buying groceries and doing laundry. While learning how to live on their own, students must also adapt to their college classes. “I am scared for the workload, but also to live in a dorm away from home. It is going to be stressful because I will be on my own,” senior Sophia Hashim said.

College Counselor Carrie Siemsen says that “our school is really good at nurturing students, so I think that nurturing can turn into enabling. We don’t always help them grow up and become independent.” Siemsen feels that overly guiding students negatively affects the students when the time comes to choose the right college. “They end up applying to schools that they are more comfortable with,” Siemsen said.

According to John, familiarity certainly plays a role in the crucial decision of choosing a college. “I think that familiarity and having certain ties to the school definitely affects how people choose a school,” John said.

When seniors finally begin to receive acceptance letters and make college choices, many students choose to stay local rather than traveling. According to statistics from college counselors, 42 percent of the class of 2017 stayed in-state for college. While students choose these schools for an array of different reasons, John says that some of this can be attributed to “the surroundings or [knowing] someone who has had a good experience who can talk with you about the classes and teachers there.”

For some individuals, colleges with which they share ties with may be a good option. These schools can ease the stress of being in a new place. While familiar schools are not perfect for everyone, individuals such as Pia are comforted by the knowledge that familiar faces are on campus and there is always someone who can relate to their experiences.

Olivia Collins, Madison Dailey, and Amelia Bothwell are Community Editors for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.