Pressure builds as students face college app season

Senior Alexis Lopez-Beltran is planning on applying to Monterey Peninsula College because it’s cheaper to go there her first two years and then transfer to a four-year school. But despite her decision to attend MPC, she feels pressure from her CHS teachers to go to four-year college right after high school.

“[Teachers] feel like if I go to a four-year right away I’ll succeed more,” Lopez-Beltran explains. “But I don’t think it really makes much difference as long as I graduate from a good college.”

While counselor Jeff Schatz doesn’t believe that it’s the school that adds pressure to apply, but the students themselves, a majority of seniors agree with Lopez-Beltran and admit they feel pressure from Carmel High School to attend college.

A survey taken of the entire senior class reveals that 72 percent of seniors have felt pressure from CHS to apply to college, including students who are not applying to a four-year college. Out of the 23 percent of students not applying to college, two-thirds of them feel pressure from CHS to apply to college.

Starting in their sophomore year, students at CHS are influenced to go to college by having to take the mandatory practice ACT. This trend continues into junior year when students take the mandatory PSAT.

“I definitely feel pressure to go to a four-year,” senior Nick Mikulich says. “It’s almost like nothing else is even an option. If I didn’t go to a four-year, I will be a failure or not as happy in life. The pressure comes from three places: my parents, my classmates and my teachers.”

Senior Leonard Cisneros agrees with Mikulich, saying that it is parents, the school and peers that tend to advocate for the four-year universities.

Despite the majority of seniors believing that CHS does add pressure on students to apply to four-year schools, the pressure on students is not only due to CHS.

“There is so much pressure to go,” senior Alex Moreland explains. “I am getting pressure from parents mainly. Teachers and counselors also contribute a little pressure, but they truly care about the seniors having a happy graduation and life after high school.”

Counselor Jennifer Goodbody believes most Carmel residents have goals for their children to attend college.

“I think because we’re Carmel…their goal is for their children to attend college,” the frosh-soph counselor says.

There is also the pressure of finding and being eligible for well-paying jobs.

“I’m definitely planning on attending college,” senior Atrin Sardarian says, “since nowadays you can’t really make a decent living without a college education.”

Sardarian also agrees with Schatz that students are responsible for putting pressure on themselves.

With a large amount of students planning on going to college and the pressure building to apply in the senior class, the issue of whether to use class time to work on applications arises.

“The only time I have spent in class on college apps is when we worked on the U.C. essays in Palshaw’s [English] class,” senior Jenny Schrock says. “I honestly think that we should have class time to work on apps. It is stressful, and I know a lot of people have the same questions. It is hard enough to keep good grades with seven classes and sports and clubs, but adding apps makes it a lot worse. If the school thinks it’s so important to our futures, why not help and try and make it easier on students?”

In fact, 75 percent of seniors believe that they should be allowed class time to work on college applications.

Some classes, like the English IV class and AVID class, have taken the opportunity to help students with their applications, college essays or scholarships.

“I think it’s helpful,” Lopez-Beltran says, “because I applied to one CSU just to see if I could get in, and the application process is actually pretty difficult. So having that help right there is really helpful to fill out the application correctly.”

Despite some classes offering the opportunity to work on applications, not all students have received help their senior year in class.

“We spent some time last year in APLAC writing U.C. personal statements,” Sardarian says. “Other than that I haven’t spent any class time on my college apps.”

-CAITLIN CHAPPELL