Column: Mind of a Senior During 2020


Illustration by Clariss Valdivia

It’s senior year, the year we have looked forward to our whole lives. Top dogs, free periods, sunglasses, tiaras, senior privileges, and one step closer to college…


The college admissions process was already complicated, and this year the global pandemic affects every aspect of it.  The most challenging conundrum is how to navigate this already stressful college selection process that we have been preparing for our entire school careers except that we now feel unprepared. We thought we had it all planned, but suddenly the rules of this ridiculous process turned upside down. 


We were supposed to have taken our standardized tests by now, but instead we juggle those on top of college applications, supplemental essays, and the senior year workload.  After the huge lull in the spring and summer, now everything is crammed into the fall- standardized testing, essay writing, college visits (for the few campuses that are restarting tours). Then there is the joy of trying to get your teachers’ attention while you are a little thumbnail on their screen in hybrid learning. 


It was drilled into us that second semester junior year grades would be an important factor except school shut down and turned virtual within the span of spring break.  AP exams became a joke: a 45 minute open note, open book test that supposedly tests our knowledge over an entire academic year. “College visits over junior spring break” disappeared as cancellations flooded my email. I certainly got used to preparing for tests that I wouldn’t know would actually take place.  No summer activities to report.  Few volunteer opportunities available.


It was a summer that didn’t exist on the resume of many.


But this pales in comparison to people who faced true struggles during these past 6 months.  Many lost their livelihood. Some lost reliable access to breakfast and lunch when schools closed. And online learning required students to have a computer and reliable wifi…things we take for granted.  Many were saddled with daycare responsibilities for siblings studying at home.  


We have no idea what “test optional” really means. We have no idea how colleges will compare students because schooling was and is different for every school. And some schools went pass/fail while others boosted GPAs to acknowledge student hardship.  


We have no idea if the schools will become more or less selective/competitive this year – will everyone want to stay close to home when taking a plane flight is such an ordeal right now?  Will Florida state school be harder to get into because of cost and proximity? 



We do know that ultimately everyone will end up at whatever college they are supposed to end up at.  


And…we know these challenges will eventually end.  And we have learned resilience, living in the moment, not knowing what circumstances we will face.  And we have learned to look beyond ourselves to find ways to help and protect others with simple gestures such as wearing a mask. 


Ultimately our future will not be determined by where we each go to college or how we perform on tests, but rather we will be far more successful because we learned…it is not all about us.