Senior Fall: A Helping Hand from Faculty

Sienna Robertson, Staff Writer

October 20, 2023

Senior Fall is officially upon us. It is a time when twelve years of a student’s educational career culminates into just one quarter. Every year, high school students across the country worry about the college process. A study from last year by The Princeton Review showed that 74% of the 14,000 students surveyed were stressed about their college applications. Though undisclosed in the study, there were likely many factors that contributed to their anxiety including but not limited to, household income, location, legacy, and education. Though Nobles’ curriculum emphasizes college preparedness, the stress of applying to higher education institutions does not vanish. How will Nobles handle the trials and tribulations of this college application season?

In addition to the many essays applicants must write, there are also many curricular responsibilities. English Faculty Alden Mauck said, “[With] the sort of frenetic quality and anxiety about senior electives, the first quarter is obviously worse for the kids than [for] me.” 

A lot of the chaos during Senior Fall is largely due to a shift in students’ application strategies. “Everybody’s either applying early action or early decision, or even if they’re putting it off a little bit, they’re putting it off to early decision two,” Mauck said. The college process was not always this way. “The percentage of kids who, by the middle of January, already have at least one college to go to is a percentage that’s almost unimaginable to when I was in high school, or even when I first started teaching,” Mauck said. 

The new schedule may also impact the senior workload relative to the college process. “I imagine that with the depth of work that we’re doing with the longer blocks, my hope is that everyone feels a little bit more confident and maybe even more ahead of the curve than normal,” History Faculty Hannah Puckett said.

The intense workload and numerous challenges that come with being a senior in the first quarter are daunting. So far, students like Valentina Chukwu (Class I) have experienced the stress firsthand this quarter. “I want A’s. I need to actually try this first quarter. I also need to try to get those essays in, and I’m doing a music portfolio for double bass… there’s a lot of things,” she said. But what is the significance of this first quarter? For early action and early decision applicants, the application deadline is November 1, so students must send their grades from the first quarter. This means that the seniors must put their best foot forward in their classes, which can be frightening. 

Luckily though, their teachers want to see them succeed. “I will do everything possible to give the kids the best possible grade that I can for the first quarter,” Mauck said. Although she’s stated that she finds rounding grades quite arbitrary, Puckett said, “I’m more likely to round up and give students the benefit of the doubt because I realized that it’s a really challenging time.” She also made it clear that she never rounds up grades except under very clear conditions: “I never round-up in the quarters, except for seniors, because I think that your grade is your grade. But for seniors, I will give the benefit of the doubt if they’re showing engagement,” she said. Both Mauck and Puckett place an emphasis on allowing flexibility for seniors during this time, as long as they continue demonstrating commitment to their work.

Overcoming the difficulties of applying to institutions is not a task that seniors have to do alone. “Kids will say, ‘I need to get an A in order to get into college’. That is not true for any of them. They do not need an A in one class in order to get into college,” Mauck said. Fortunately, Nobles seniors have access to an entire team of college counselors who are willing to assist with all aspects of applications. This privilege is a rarity compared to many students in the United States, so students who feel lost should know that they have multiple hands ready to help them out. As Senior Fall kicks off with a bang, we can all look forward to Senior Spring as the light at the end of the tunnel!

(Photo Credit: Zack Mittelstadt)

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