Oh The Places They’ll Go!

When most people think about the quintessential senior year experience, they usually think of fun memories with friends, senior privileges, and an overall sense of community with their class.  Senior year of high school is a time for making memories with your friends and enjoying your last year of high school.  But, it’s also a time for planning and making decisions about the future.

For many students, the college decision process is easy and rather painless.  However, for some students, indecision can add stress and worry to an otherwise fun and carefree point in the high school experience.  At Providence Academy, seniors have a wide variety of opinions about their decision-making process.

41 Seniors were surveyed from April 17th – 23rd, and results show the different ways in which seniors made their college decisions.  The deadline for choosing a college is May 1st, which means that PA seniors now have their college plans finalized.

Out of the seniors surveyed, only one student is taking a gap year; the other 40 are heading off to a college or university in the fall.  This is not surprising, considering PA is a college-prep school renowned for sending students to elite colleges.

Although almost the entirety of PA’s senior class is planning on attending a college or university next year, the process for how students choose colleges differs dramatically.

Paris Edwards ’18 made her college decision all the way back in June 2017.  “I had 5 colleges on my list and I submitted a college day tour for ISU (Iowa State University). When I went there and saw the Memorial Union and the gym and the dorms, I just had that feeling. I felt at home and not overwhelmed with everything going on. I saw myself going there and walking down those halls and sleeping in those dorms. I found my niche, ” said Paris.

Paris may have been one of the earliest to decide where she will attend school next year, but there are plenty of other students who also chose their schools early in the year.  Out of the seniors surveyed, nearly 27% had chosen a school before March.

Although many students made their decisions easily and quickly, there are also many students who found decision-making to be a bit more challenging.  Many seniors, like Isabella Benson, sometimes feel stressed or unsure of how they will make their college decision.  About 42% of surveyed seniors said that their college decision was hard or seemingly impossible.

Isabella is taking her time to decide.  “I’m only 18! To think that I’m making a decision that affects not only the next four years but my life is terrifying but exciting,” she said.

There are a multitude of factors that seniors must keep in mind when choosing a college, which indubitably can make this process challenging.  Among the surveyed senior class, the three most common factors that influenced seniors were class and school size, school location, and programs offered at the school.

When attempting to weigh their options, it can be easy for students to get bogged down.  “Oftentimes, seniors have no idea what they want or where they want to be and therefore have to wait until the last second to commit,” said Isabella.

It is also important to remember that there are always people to help students during the college decision process.  Family, friends, PA College Counseling, and faith are support systems that students can rely on and utilize during this stressful time in their lives.

Seniors listen to a panel at PA’s “College Day” session
photo courtesy of Mrs. Winegar


Although it is difficult, choosing a college gives seniors a better understanding of the process overall.  Emmaly Smith ’18  advised, “Take your time and don’t feel pressured to go to a certain school. This is your life and you’ve got plenty of time. Keep in mind you won’t know it’s the right decision until you are brave and go for it.”

When it comes to weighing scholarships, determining size and location, and balancing the opinions of others, the college decision process can seem daunting.  Just remember that no matter how stressful, hard, or long the process seems, it will all be worth it when you get to explore a whole new chapter of your life at a college that you make your own.

The college decision process may be winding down for the Class of 2018, but PA’s juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are just getting started.  Check out PAW writer Michael Straszewski’s article on the PA 2018 College Fair, which was held on Wednesday, April 25th.

Click here to see more information from the Class of 2018 Senior Survey!