Early to Rise

The first big college application deadline has passed, but NASH seniors didn’t let it leave them behind.


Sadie Han

While applying early has distinct advantages, getting into the thick of college application season is unavoidably stressful for most seniors.

Aris Pastor, Co-Editor-in-Chief

For many people, October 31st means costumes and pumpkins and candy, as well as a healthy dose of frights. But for many seniors, the last day of October denoted something different and undoubtedly more stressful–the day before many early applications to colleges were due. Instead of dressing up or watching a scary movie, college-bound seniors were perfecting their applications, writing or rewriting supplemental essays, or having last-minute meetings with the school counselors. 

Mrs. Jennifer Rosato, one of NASH’s counselors, stated that a lot of this panic can come from a lack of a definite plan.

“I’ve really seen that a lot of kids will enter my office extremely overwhelmed because they just don’t know the answers to questions,” Rosato stated. “It’s very anxiety-provoking to not have a plan. If you’re listening to neighbors and friends and peers and everything that everybody else is doing, it’s very overwhelming.”

Applying early has distinct advantages and disadvantages, especially for more competitive students. Many schools, especially Ivy League colleges, are more likely to accept students applying early, and applying early decision can show a commitment to that college because of the binding nature of the contract. 

As senior Samhita Gudapati said, “I think if you have a dream school that you really want to go to, applying early just shows them that you’re really serious about going there. I think that’s the most important thing.”

However, many students advise being careful when it comes to the notion of a dream school. 

I couldn’t even pass out candy because I was holed up in my room doing college apps!”

— Vicky Nie, NASH senior

One such student, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a dream school, but I think being open is good. Definitely don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.” 

Ultimately, the choice of applying early is a strategic one. Both early action and early decision depend on a lot of factors, from how much time a person has in the preceding months to what their major will be to their economic situation. 

“[This decision] is so individualized,” Rosato said. “I might tell [one person] to do something for five schools that I tell their friend to do something completely different with. It all depends on your scores, your grades, your major, your interests.”

Apart from the merits and drawbacks of applying early, the stress of the deadline was prevalent throughout NASH. Many students, like Katharine Peng, found the supplemental essays particularly challenging, especially on a time crunch. 

“My hardest supplemental has probably been one that I had to write for UPenn,” Peng stated. “It was ‘Write a short thank you letter to somebody who you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge.’ In of itself, it really shouldn’t be that hard, but I had a lot of trouble coming up with who to write it to, and then also how I wanted to express the gratitude I have for people in my life.”

Even though Rosato estimated that about 75% of NASH seniors are choosing to apply early, many students don’t find the earlier results or the strategy of applying early to be worth the stress. The timing of the deadline is also a drawback for many seniors. The first day of November is one of the most common early application deadlines, and it just happens to lie at the junction of NASH getting into the thick of activities and dances, the end of the nine weeks, and Halloween celebrations. 

“You know, it’s been kind of sad that I haven’t been able to participate in Halloween, one of my favorite holidays,” Vicky Nie said. “I couldn’t even pass out candy because I was holed up in my room doing college apps!”

Still, many NASH seniors find the stress of applying early–whether through early action or early decision–to be ultimately worth any leg up they can get. 

“For UPenn, I’m hopeful [that I’ll get in],” Peng said, “I mean, realistically, I don’t really have that big of a chance, but I really am interested in this school. I just hope the interest and the passion that I put into all of my essays shine through.”