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Students share their college decisions and majors. Each student represents their college choice and reason for commitment.

Photos by Shylah Gibson

College deadlines and their impact on senior decisions

April 26, 2019

As the end of the school year approaches, it seems that every other post on Twitter regards a commitment by an athlete, a scholarship being rewarded for academics, or a story regarding a student with a drastic amount of debt they’re facing after graduating college. In the end, every student has to face this decision of whether they will attend college or not, and where they will go after high school.

Many students feel that there is some kind of pressure lying upon them to attend college after high school, and it may seem that college deadlines could be one of these pressures. According to senior Claira Laughlin, this decision tends to put a toll on indecisive students.

“I believe it is very stressful for students,” Laughlin said. “It is an important life decision we are forced to make as a teenager before a deadline. This hurts students who are more indecisive and can potentially cause them from missing out on a great opportunity.”

I believe it is very stressful for students. It is an important life decision we are forced to make as a teenager before a deadline. This hurts students who are more indecisive and can potentially cause them from missing out on a great opportunity.”

— senior Claira Laughlin

Along with this idea of deadlines holding students back, some students tend to miss out on these opportunities earlier within their college decision process.

“21st-century scholars is a huge deal,” counselor Sally Porter said. “Although it limits students to colleges in Indiana, there are great schools in Indiana. If a 21st-century scholar didn’t use theirs by going out of state, they’ve lost a big opportunity there.”

According to IU’s student resource page, 21st-century scholars is an organization which encourages low-middle income students to take part in some kind of postsecondary education. This organization can allow for students to have up to four years of their college paid for, which is one major benefit to seniors throughout Indiana.

21st-century scholars have allowed for much success within this process for many students, one of those being senior Ben May.

“I am a part of 21st-century scholars,” May said. “This was a big factor in my decision because when deciding, because of the scholarship I received a full ride to IU Bloomington. Besides the cost, I fell in love with the campus and programs they offer for my major. Not having to worry about cost is the best situation to ask for.”

As said before, this program has impacted many students, but there still remains those who have to face the opposing side of finding their funds on their own.

“I am not apart of the 21 Century Scholars,” senior Maranda Coyle said. “I feel like it has made my college decision more difficult because I have to really pay attention to the cost even more now. There is certainly more pressure on students who don’t receive financial aid because they now have to find an alternative way to fund for college expenses all while going to a college that will provide them with a good experience.”

Porter also mentions alternatives for students who cannot receive this aid.

“Students should talk to financial aid people if there are circumstances where they need that extra help,” she said. “My best advice would be to try to have the smallest amount of debt that you can in college. You hear about that a lot in the news about these outstanding amounts that students owe when they graduate college. I know it’s hard if you have your mind set on a school, but that financial aid part of it is obviously very important.”

While financial aid is one of the biggest factors for most students, some students feel as though colleges don’t allow them enough time to make this decision.

“I understand why they [colleges] have deadlines and understand why they need to stay, but I believe that access to their deadlines and knowledge on their programs should be more accessible so students do not miss the deadlines,” Laughlin said.

On the other hand, some seniors feel as though the process could be easier for students.

“I think it [deciding on a college] impacts kids in all different ways, I for one am very excited for college but I had to do so much research and learn lots of new responsibility techniques to get into a college and be ready for next school year,” May said. “I’ve never found the process to be frustrating but takes very long and is lots of work. I think colleges would benefit if there were more ‘before you apply’ instructions and tips so we can all be equally able to succeed.”

For students who have yet to decide on their future career path, there are different routes available that may allow for more success within a decision.

“If you’re just absolutely unsure on where you want to go, then I would hate for you to commit to somewhere when there’s still a chance you might not want to go there,” Porter said. “Hopefully by this point, you at least have this information that will help, the biggest thing at this point is that financial aid which will make it hard for many students to make a decision. Trying to look at the whole package and what the cost is going to be to make your best decision.”

Infographic by Shylah Gibson
An infographic displaying the different deadlines for colleges.

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