Seniors Dealing with the Angst of College Decisions and the Holiday Season

Early Decision news can make or break the holiday vibe


Delaney Sandner and Jada Thielen

For numerous members of the senior class, the month of December brings anticipation beyond the traditional holiday celebrations–during this month, decisions are delivered that affect many students’ futures. College decision letters arrive throughout the month, and many seniors are on the edge waiting to hear the news. For many students, senior stress might be taking away from their well-deserved holiday break. 

In fact, many seniors’ winter vacations are highly dependent on their admission status. Senior Joey Donovan, who applied for Early Decision to Duke University, is eagerly awaiting their decision, which will determine if he needs to apply to other colleges over the winter break. Donovan explained, “I am in a weird position because I could be spending my winter break working on other supplemental essays for other colleges.” However, Donovan is optimistic, as he is “open to however it goes.” Whether the decision will change his week or not, Donovan tells himself to “stick to what you can control, and you can’t really control if you get admitted or not.” Donovan advises other anxious seniors to “trust that you’ve put your best foot forward, and trust in all the work you’ve put in over the past four years.” 

SHS senior JJ Adams is constantly checking the college portal as he awaits news from Brown University. As many colleges send their decisions back through the month of December, Adams anticipates the status of his acceptance very soon. Similar to Donovan, if he is not accepted, Adams will be completing a lot of essays for different colleges but when this job is done “all the stress will be off [his] shoulders.” Adams commented, “If you’re happy with what you’ve done to present yourself to these schools, and if they don’t accept and don’t want you, then you don’t want them.” He encourages other seniors to still enjoy their winter break and spend time with family and friends. According to Adams, there are “so many schools out there, you’re going to thrive in one school you like.” 

SHS senior Michael Gantt had a different experience so far with colleges. Gantt has already heard back from a few of his top schools and has been accepted. Gantt is thrilled with this news and happy to feel less stress around the application process.  However, Gantt is still waiting to hear back from a few more schools, which leaves him anxious but the biggest stress factor is over. Gantt wants other students to “stay positive and trust in what you’ve done” and know that in the end, it is all worth it.  He said students shouldn’t let colleges depict their entire mood for a break. 

One senior whose college acceptance changed his entire break is SHS senior Shea Morley. Most students may recognize Morley for being a State Champ linebacker for the football team; however, he also excels in academics. Morley was admitted to Boston College (BC) through an Early Decision application process. Ever since Morley was a child, BC has been his “dream school.”  However, he had no idea how soon he would be hearing back. Morley couldn’t have been any happier, saying, “Winning the State Championship then getting into my dream school was the most exhilarating experience.” Morley said he “wanted to open the letter by himself to avoid disappointment,” but in the end, he got to celebrate his decision with the whole team. Morley wants to remind seniors that “what you’ve done is finalized–and know that you’ve worked so hard these past years that no matter where you’re going, you’re going to thrive no matter what school it is.”  Morley added that students are “going to get into great schools–no matter what–even if it’s not your first choice, you’re going to go somewhere great.”

SHS Adjustment Counselor Jennifer Lopes understands how stressful this time period is for students and wants to help in the best way possible.  Lopes said she has “spoken with a number of seniors regarding the stress over the college process from applications, being in limbo while waiting for acceptances” and asking questions like “Will I get in, and how will we pay for this?” To manage the stress, Lopes encourages seniors to “try to find a balance throughout this process.” She said there are many opportunities, and students should keep an open mind–and they don’t need to have everything figured out all at once. “Focus on what is within your control, and make the best decision you can given the whole picture,” she said. Lopes suggests students use some of these strategies to help deal with stress: “Calming activities, breathing, yoga, music, being around friends, and surrounding yourself with people who support and care about you.” Lopes is available for students who are going through a difficult time and would love to help everyone as much as possible.