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The Student News Site of Darien High School


The Student News Site of Darien High School


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An Ongoing Struggle: Navigating the Complicated Aftermath of the Early Decision College Application Round

Let’s celebrate all of the students who got into their ED, but let’s also be mindful of all those who didn’t
A sign reads “decision,” something that all students going through the college application process wait anxiously for. Photo Credit: Matthew Swanson/Creative Commons
The “@darienhighschool24” Instagram page shares photos of seniors, the colleges they have decided to attend, and their prospective majors. Photo Credit: Instagram (@darienhighschool24)

Ever since December 15th—the day that most colleges release their decisions to ED I applicants—the “@darienhighschool24” Instagram account has been flooding my feed with posts of accepted students and their future colleges. While it’s exciting to see my close friends and classmates get into their dream schools, there are times when I find it hard not to press the unfollow button so I can escape thoughts of the college process. Scrolling through all those posts just reminds me of the lack of security I feel about my own future. I find myself getting jealous of all of the people who got accepted and who can now sit back and finally take a deep breath. But unfollowing that account wouldn’t change anything. The stress of the college process is inescapable. And even the people who did get into their number-one schools in December still felt all of that stress in the months prior. In the end, we are all in the same boat.

If you can’t already tell from the first paragraph, I did not get into my ED school on December 15th. I did get deferred, however, so all hopes of getting into that school are not lost. But getting deferred that day just meant that I would have to apply to more schools and spend four more months dealing with the college process. Four more months of uncertainty. Four more months of holding my breath while opening decision letters. Four more months of stress.

It’s undeniable that the college process is a struggle for all students going through it, and the ED round brought along even more complicated feelings. Every student applying to college has their own unique experience. To better understand the complexities of the aftermath of the ED round, I spoke to three students who all had different experiences either leading up to or after their decisions came out.

First, I spoke with senior Tess Benedict. Like me, Benedict got deferred from her ED on December 15th. I asked her to explain her perspective as someone who is still going through the process. Benedict responded, “It was so awesome seeing my friends get into their dream schools in December, but it was also draining seeing how they were over with the process while I still have an unpredictable couple of months ahead of me. Getting deferred was confusing because I am so happy that I still have a shot at my top school, but it makes the decision of ED II extremely difficult. I had long discussions with my parents over the holiday break about what my best option was, adding a lot of stress and time spent to the days I had hoped to spend getting ready for midterms and enjoying my vacation. It is also frustrating because the entire process becomes a strategy, and I have a hard time deciding what type of decision agreement (EA, ED II, or RD) will work out best for me for every school.”

Barnard College, Columbia University is a private women’s liberal arts college in New York City, where senior Christina McDonnell will begin her college journey in the fall of 2024. Photo Credit: Billie Grace Ward/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Next, I spoke with senior Christina McDonnell. On December 13th, McDonnell got accepted to attend Barnard College, her ED. When I asked her to tell me about her perspective as an accepted student, McDonnell said, “I am so incredibly happy to be going to Barnard in the fall. I definitely feel a weight lifted off of my shoulders, but I can’t deny that it did feel bittersweet withdrawing my applications that I had already submitted. It wasn’t so much because I wish I was going to those schools, but more because of all the hard work I put into writing the supplements, filling out the applications, sending my transcript forms etc. I also finished all of my applications (even RD) before I found out about my ED acceptance, so I couldn’t help but think about all the time I spent on those, which didn’t even get submitted in the end. I think it would have also been entertaining to see where I could have gotten in, but I honestly wouldn’t trade my ED acceptance to Barnard for anything, and I could not be happier to be done with the college application process.”

Senior Audrey Sears will be rowing and studying at the beautiful University of Miami in Fall 2024. Photo Credit: Instagram (@univmiami)

The last person I spoke with was senior Audrey Sears, who had the interesting experience of committing to a college for her sport. Sears will be rowing at the University of Miami in the fall. I asked her to walk me through her unique experience getting committed to a college for a sport. Sears stated, “Getting committed for rowing was definitely a journey. Like many other athletes, I had to go through a long process of emailing coaches from all over the country. With rowing, there are multiple different boxes you have to check off in order to be committed. Erg times, grades, race results, and videos. I had to weigh the pros and cons of each college like most people but keep in mind what their rowing programs were like as well. Like nonathletes, I was trying to find a school that was the best fit for me, as my other teammates were already being committed. That’s when I talked to U Miami’s head coach and really became interested. Being committed is intimidating because you place all of your bets on one school. The only school I applied to was U Miami. I was invited out by the coaches on an official, where I flew to Miami and followed an itinerary while visiting the college. An official is a way for the coaches and yourself to demonstrate interest, sometimes ending with an offer. I got the chance to advocate for myself in person rather than just through the Common App. After my official, I knew I needed to go there. I am so glad I committed to U Miami. I had the relief of knowing where I was going to college even before senior year and that was pretty great to be honest. I am thrilled that I committed to a school I am in love with after all of my hard work throughout the years.”

After getting a glimpse into the perspectives of these three seniors, it’s safe to say that the college process is truly different for every student. But, just because this process is entirely personal, that does not mean that we can’t support one another through our individual journeys. Everyone’s college process is complicated in its own way, and everyone could use some encouragement to get through it. So, let’s all continue to celebrate the people who already know where they are going and, at the same time, support all of those who are still waiting on their decisions.

For any students who are struggling with their mental health as they go through the college process, here is a link to Darien High School’s page on mental health resources: DHS Mental Health & Wellness Supports

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About the Contributor
Mallory Sloan
Mallory Sloan, Writer
Mallory is a senior who started writing for Neirad in the fall of 2023. She loves writing about literature, film, and the arts at DHS—specifically the theater arts. Along with being a writer, Mallory is the Vice President of Programming for Theatre 308. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music, and watch movies. Her all-time favorite movie is La La Land.

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