Seniors handle the stress of college decisions


Kristen Smith

Seniors at Hayes and around the country are applying for colleges and making decisions on where they will attend this fall.

Noah Sparkman, Editor-in-Chief

As the school year begins its second semester, seniors are starting to look onward and to another chapter of their lives: college.
While some have already committed, many seniors are getting ready to make their decisions in the coming months, and it is easy to get stressed about that prospect. With a decision as massive as picking the college that will set up the rest of your life, some say that stress is natural.
“It’s not unique to this [graduating] class,” college and career counselor Jennifer Pollard said. “I can remember that feeling even from when I was in high school.”
During the process of deciding, there are many factors that cause students stress, the largest of which is the financial component.
“Most of the time, [the decision] does boil down to finances,” Pollard said. “I think with the pandemic, kids are wondering: ‘Why would I pay tuition when I can just take classes at Columbus State or OSU Marion?’”
However, many students do enjoy the campus experience and want to be able to afford school while living there. The proposition of paying off massive sums of money in order to do so can be very daunting.
Pollard says that there are two main avenues to help students afford school without going into debt.
“I want to throw in scholarships, because even though some may only be $500 or so, they can add up quickly,” Pollard said. “Also, having the FAFSA done relieves a lot of stress from the situation.”
Even beyond cost, though, Pollard emphasizes one main factor: a student’s fit.
“I do think at the end of the day, [picking a college is] just where you fit best,” Pollard said.
Different students go about this in different ways. For some, they may use the ability to explore information about a campus to their advantage.
“I definitely utilized the visiting aspect,” senior Taylor McMillin said. “The thing that helped me most actually was looking the schools up on social media and seeing what students thought about them.”
For others, that fit becomes more apparent through the paths they have chosen.
“My major is aviation, which is a very specific major to specific schools,” senior Liam Harding said. “There’s only specific schools that have airports.”
Some even find their fit to be far more important than the finances involved.
“It’s going to be expensive, but it will ultimately be worth it,” Harding said. “I feel okay about it.”
While balancing those several factors, students can easily feel lost in the process. In a vast sea of ever-evolving choices being made, it is common for students to feel adrift and in need of help.
Pollard highlights the importance of reaching out if a student is in that situation.
“I think the best thing to do is to make an appointment with me if you’re really struggling with that decision,” Pollard said. “I can’t help unless you tell me, and when students meet with me, I think that they leave with a sense of relief.”
Even with that help, though, it is up to the student to do what is best for them to relieve stress.
“It might be taking a nap, or going running, or reading a book, but whatever it is, the most important thing is to take care of yourself,” Pollard said.
In the end, that is what most students want from their decision: making sure they are taken care of. Getting there is the struggle, but once decisions are made, students often feel peace.
“I feel happy with my decision,” McMillin said. “I feel good about my results.”