Latin’s College Process: Perspectives from the Juniors and Seniors

Iz Gius (with help from Kathryn Stender)

As the college process comes to a head this week for many Latin seniors, for juniors it has just begun. Our dreaded College Night, standardized test prep, the first individual meetings with counselors— for the class of 2017, the hazy picture of our future is finally starting to come into focus.

To try to grasp some of the differences of opinion between the two upperclassmen grades, both at very different stages of the college process, I asked the same series of five questions to a variety of Latin juniors and seniors. Here are their responses:

  1. How, in general, do you feel about Latin’s college process?

Junior: “I know that I’m extremely lucky to have the opportunities and college counseling system that we have here, so I don’t want to negate it, but I feel like nothing’s really happened yet. So I guess that’s good?”

“I think that we take care of it pretty well, but the culture of Latin as a whole definitely makes it stressful.”

“I haven’t really started it yet, but it seems like it will be really helpful. I know from friends at other schools how lucky we are to have three counselors and to start so early into our junior year. Some of my friends at other schools only have one counselor for their entire class, and only start during 12th grade.”

Senior: “Latin’s college process is one of the most helpful resources for students. The fact that Latin has three college counselors and the ability to split the grade up into smaller groups of students per counselor means that Ms. Pleshette, Ms. Taylor, and Ms. O’Malley can get to know each student on a more personal level. As we are aware, there isn’t just one Latin student; everyone is different. Latin’s college process does a great job understanding each student’s circumstances and providing the best resources for success.”

2. Do you feel that the college counselors are a beneficial resource?

Junior: I feel like they’re going to be very helpful as the school year progresses. [My college counselor] is going to be a really good grounding and supportive figure, for sure, and I know that she won’t lead me wrong.”

“I think they’re helpful, although haven’t really interacted much with mine beyond that initial meeting. That said, I can definitely see how they could become overbearing.”

“It’s great to have someone knowledgeable to root for you and guide you through the process, especially for people like me who don’t really know where to start.”

Senior: “Absolutely. The college counselors are there for students throughout the entire process. Their insight, advice, and overall knowledge of the college process is what helps seniors get through a stressful time. Often times, I think about other high school’s college counseling systems, some counselors can have up to 70 students to advocate for, making it difficult for students to seek out help. At Latin, the college counselors go out of their way to meet with students. Whether that be about their essays or just general questions, the counselors are always there.”

3. Are you more nervous or excited about the prospect of going to college?

Junior: “Right now, I’m mostly nervous. But I know that once I get there, it will be a good experience.”

“So excited. I’m ready to get out of Chicago and be on my own and study the things that I like.”

“I think I’m more excited than nervous. Of course nerves are there, but I can’t wait to have independence and and be in an environment all about learning and figuring out the rest of your life.”

Senior: “I’m definitely a mix of nerves and excitement when I think about going to college next year. Leaving home and going to an entirely different school with new people makes me nervous. However, I know those nerves are only temporary and that there will be so many opportunities for me in college.”

  1. Do you think the college process is fair? If not, in what specific ways is it unfair?

Junior: “It’s extremely unfair. Like I said before, so many people don’t have the opportunity to have counselors like we do. And with everything that’s been going on recently with Yale and Mizzou, people are starting to realize that if college is supposed to be a standard now, then it needs to be accessible to everybody. We’re taking steps to get to that point, but we’re not there right now.”

“I think it’s unfair because the people that can afford more test prep get better scores, and standardized testing in general isn’t a good way to measure intelligence.”

“Of course the college process is not fair at all. Colleges focus way too much on numbers and names and superficial aspects, rather than the actual students and their love of learning.”

Senior: “I can’t say the entire process is unfair. Honestly I think one really important lesson the college process teaches students is that not everything in life is going to be fair. There are going to be students accepted into universities and others who will not be.”

4. Any advice for the seniors going through this process?

“I don’t feel like I can answer that yet.”

“Do your best to keep your head above water. Try to remember that it’ll all pay off in the end and that we are all so lucky to have this.

“Don’t post where you got in on Facebook!”

“Try to have fun and don’t stress.”

5. Any advice for the juniors?

“Get started on your essays early! The summer is a great time to get work done. I’m not saying spend your entire summer writing college essays, you should be having fun too, but it’s a great time to relieve some of the stress you’ll begin to feel in the fall. There are a lot of deadlines during the college process, so stay organized; set up meetings and go to those meetings! The college process will keep you busy and can make you feel overwhelmed at times, but what’s important to remember is that your entire class is feeling the same way; you’re all going through it together.”