BY ALICIA KRUEGER
After weeks of late nights and hard work, Nov. 1 hit and approximately 50 Carmel High School seniors submitted their early action and early decision applications to various colleges and universities.
Though this has been the norm in years past, the Class of 2019 is different.
“These seniors are [applying early] for the right reasons,” CHS college and career counselor Darren Johnston says. “They’re applying early because they have narrowed their list of schools, they know the schools that they’re applying early to are in their top choices, and they want to have that school locked in. They are being more intentional and strategic with their applications.”
Taking the opportunity to apply as early as possible, senior Jake Rodhouse is applying to Emerson College and Northeastern University early because they both top his list.
“I want to study music production or music technology,” Rodhouse says. “I want to be able to compare my options once I receive answers from schools.”
Rodhouse also expressed the importance of financial aid and location of schools for him, which contribute to why he made the decision to apply early, unlike many CHS students of the past.
Historically, CHS students have applied early to a number of prestigious schools, including the Ivy Leagues and Stanford, because of their name recognition and high rankings, Johnston says. Because these universities are often reach schools for students, it leads to lower acceptance rates. Johnston reports that less than 10 percent of applicants gain acceptance to their reach schools, almost making applying early action a waste of time.
“The class of 2018 tended to stretch beyond their means by applying to more lottery or reach schools than I would recommend as their counselor,” Johnston explains. “But the percentage of individuals applying to more reach schools did not go up between the Class of 2015 to 2018—it has been a consistent number.”
Gaining the impression that the Class of 2018 did not do well in terms of acceptance rates and seeing the class before his overestimate themselves and fail to be realistic, senior Jack Cordell found motivation to push himself in order to increase his acceptance chances.
In the previous three years, about 10 percent of students were applying early compared to 25 percent of the graduating class this year, according to CHS counselors.
“Certain stories from students affected me,” Cordell says. “Those definitely motivated me to push in order to exceed the average rankings for each school’s ACT range.”
The CHS College and Career Center noticed the trend as well. A strategic, intentional plan was made by college and career counselors and support in order to reduce the number of students applying to schools only because of prestige and ego. The program decided to shift the focus onto schools that are the right fit and remove the culture that the only option is to go to schools that have a reputation for being the “best.”
Since the 2017-18 school year, he College and Career Center has hosted workshops encouraging students to apply to fewer schools, stressing applying to only the ones that they could back up as to why they would fit there, ultimately hoping that students would be able to create a more competitive application by being passionate about the school and allowing themselves more time on each application.
“I only completed one early action application for Brigham Young University,” senior Soana Laulotu says. “I’m focusing on this one school because of how much I really want to commit to attending. BYU is my dream, and I am willing to take the risk of only applying there.”
By only applying to one school early, Laulotu is allowing herself more time for perfecting her application and, in Johnston’s eyes, increasing her chances of acceptance.
“That was a big shift in how we prepared juniors and it seems to be paying off,” the counselor explains. “This class is the most organized and definitely amongst my most intrinsically motivated group of seniors. [They place the] responsibility on themselves…. They are the most reliable, diligent and efficient group of seniors I have ever seen.”
Not only has CHS seen an increase in applicants, those applicants have shown an increase in motivation, drive and skill.
“I am very motivated and have worked really hard because I want to go somewhere great,” senior Stella Robertson says. “I’ve always been taught how important academics and education is, which pushes me to do my best. I like learning and want to continue doing it at high levels.”
Robertson is applying to numerous academically challenging schools, Stanford being her first choice. She has worked hard in order to achieve acceptance to her top school, applying early to know whether she will have to apply to any others.
“This year’s seniors are the most prepared I have ever seen,” Johnston explains, “which is partly why 50 of them are choosing to apply early, as they feel like they can still submit their most competitive application despite not having that much time to put it together.”