Senior Year Angst


Esther Lian, Senior Writer

For 193 students at San Marino High School, the start of the academic year sets in motion a year like no other…their senior year has begun!

For some, this is the dreaded year of “last” experiences: the last first day of high school, the last months on a familiar campus, the last year with friends they have grown up with through childhood and adolescence. For others, this is the year they have been waiting for: the perks of being the oldest on campus, the culmination of years of hard work, the anticipation of finally flying the nest. “For me, it’s a new type of struggle balancing tennis, school, and college apps, but the feeling of being a senior and the excitement I get thinking about college is what makes this a very special year,” Isabelle Kang enthuses.

Over the next few months, college applications and everything it involves will occupy the minds of our seniors. It may be all that the adults in their lives are interested in talking about, but for as long as they can hold it off, most seniors will try to keep all “college talk” at bay—at least while in school. It is their last-ditch attempt at ring-fencing the uncertainties and stresses that the process encompasses, so that it does not cloud the other “happier” parts of their last year in high school. “I just want to stay in high school forever,” senior Christopher Jang bemoans. 

To be fair, many changes have been implemented that ought to help make the college application landscape easier to navigate—from the wide adoption of a standard common application that over 600 colleges in the country accept to the record number of colleges that remain test-optional this year. Yet, the removal of these barriers saw the number of applications soar through the roof, making the process more competitive, and consequently, more demanding, for applicants. And as international border controls continue to ease, we can expect an uptick in the number of foreign applicants, amping the angst of our seniors. When asked about how her applications are going, senior Cosette Espino lets out a groan. “I’m dying,” she laments. “To be honest, I feel a rising tension between me and my classmates,” senior Neil Chen reflects. “As the due dates for college applications draw near, we are getting more secretive and competitive.” 

While jumping through the many hoops of admissions and writing those critical essays in the coming weeks, our seniors are conscious that the year is precious for reasons other than college applications. “(While) senior year is…a stressful time between surviving in my classes and doing college apps, I look forward to going off campus with my friends and the upcoming events for seniors this year,” shares senior Catie Tang. Indeed, many are trying to be fully present to enjoy their teachers and friends, and to do the things they have always wanted, but have never made time, to do—like joining that club, taking fun classes, enjoying homecoming, and going to the dances etcetera. “Senior year is going well so far! I’m happy that all my classes seem interesting and I’m excited for all the senior events later in the year,” Valerie excitedly remarks.

For when they look back at the end of senior year, the moments that matter would be the ones where laughs are had, and memories made.

Carpe diem!