College application process proves costly for seniors

Seniors spend a substantial amount of money on applications for college and scholarships

Alison Booth and Sam Lopez

As final deadlines for college applications approach and seniors continue applying to colleges, students have started to endure the financial, timely and emotional strain of the application process.

The process of applying to colleges has proven to be expensive. Along with a completed application that includes basic information, colleges typically request a student’s high school transcript, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation and several essays asking personal questions.

Although sending in transcripts, essays and letters of recommendation are free, sending in test scores and the application make up the majority of the expenses. According to a 2014 U.S. News report, out of 1,073 schools, the average application fee is $41. SAT and ACT tests give four free score reports that can be sent to colleges, but after those four each report costs $11 each.

The overall expense for sending in applications builds up quickly, according to senior Jack Booth.

“[The total cost has] probably been upwards of $500 at this point,” Booth said. “When I was first looking at applying for college, it didn’t look like it would be that bad, like maybe $50 an application, and I didn’t really think about how much money I would be spending to send everything in.”

Although several colleges charge for students to send in applications, others will occasionally waive the fee. Such was the case for senior Isabel Crain. One university waived her application fee because she visited their campus, another also waived the fee because of the strength of her ACT scores.

Some disapprove of the high price of applications, including senior Karla Kim, who said that the cost of sending in applications is extraordinarily high and unreasonable.

“We want education to be that opportunity and that access to people to climb up the social ladder, and to be educated and to get good jobs,” Kim said. “I think [high application costs] are not really fair and obviously gives a disadvantage to those who can’t afford to apply to multiple colleges.”

Similarly, Isabel’s father, Scott Crain, feels as if colleges should aim to encourage the students to participate in applying to colleges, regardless of their application fee.

“You’re going to have students whose families are on the lower end of the economic scale who may be just as fabulous of a student as anyone else and you sure don’t want to discourage them in any way from applying,” Scott said.

In addition to fiscal extremes, seniors must spend an adequate amount of time filling out the applications thoroughly and diligently in order to make sure colleges receive all aspects of the application, according to Kim.

“When you send your application, you need to constantly call [colleges] to make sure they have all parts of the application, so I mainly use my teacher’s aid block for that,” Kim said. “For other people who don’t have that time, I can see how it’s challenging.”

Along with filling out the physical application, several seniors have also begun spending large periods of their time going on college visits. The college visits, according to Isabel, are extremely helpful when narrowing down schools one wishes to apply to.

“My dad and I actually drove around a good majority of the U.S.,” Isabel said. “I think we went around ten or 11 states. We drove through them all and tried to figure out where in the world I was going to spend the next four years of my life.”

The emotional toll the process has on students also poses as a difficult factor to overcome. Scott feels that it can be exceedingly frustrating and a “burden for the students, but [not] an unexpected burden.”

Although challenging, Isabel said that the process of applying to college has caused her to reflect on and reevaluate her own personality.

“I think I’ve almost learned more about myself by writing all these scholarship [essays],” Isabel said. “I’ve learned to be humble but confident in myself trying to sell myself to these people.”

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