Counselors offer advice on college applications

When senior year rolls around, there is a lot on the seniors’ plates. From creating good relationships with their teachers to finding ways to cherish the last moments of highschool. From sports, grades, and prom to the most important of it all, graduation. But before all of that comes the biggest worry, college applications. 

College applications spark an increase in stress and overwhelming emotions. Most seniors will be applying to their dream school, and the thought of not getting accepted frightens them all. 

San Marin alumni and school counselor, Caroline Hoj, shared her strong interest in helping the application process go by as smoothly as possible. 

She has noticed a sense of both anxiety and hope among the students when applications open. 

After years of experience, Hoj observed that the most common worry among seniors is making sure they are able to present themselves as best they can in their college applications.

“Something important to keep in mind is the colleges only know what you tell them,” Hoj said, “A lot happens in your 4 years of high school. Your grades, your GPA, that doesn’t make you a person.” 

Hoj believes the best way to go about personal statements is to think about what parts of you do you want the colleges to know about yourself. 

“It’s all about framing who you are in those essays,” Hoj Said. 

She also believes it is important to have different types of people look over your writing. From teachers and counselors to family and friends, they are all here to help.

While this is a lot to take on, she advises seniors to stay organized and to not overwhelm themselves with everything all at once. 

“It’s a very exciting yet stressful time, but it’ll pay off,” Hoj said. “Trust the process. There is a lot of support.”

Sammie Lim
College and Career specialist Vivian Jensen helps seniors John Brawley (left) and Maya Zoeckler with UC college applications. She can be reached at or in her office located in the library.

College and Career Specialist Vivian Jensen has an expertise when it comes to supporting seniors with the application process. Jensen has organized opportunities for scholarships, jobs, college essay workshops, and visits from college representatives.

Along with Hoj, she has also noticed that the most common worry among students is that they won’t get in anywhere.

She advises students to look at previous samples of essays that have been written before. 

“Look at those samples, and ask yourself how you can make it similar but in your own voice,” Jensen said.“Everyone lands where they are supposed to, you just have to have faith. Trust in the process and trust in your experience. You have a voice.”

 Senior Alejandro Menacho appreciates the support that the school has provided for seniors and their college application process.

“I think San Marin has done a great job at offering optional resources that have accurately prepared students for college including internships, volunteering, and college level courses,” Menacho said. 

Menacho expressed his worry about completing his personal statement. He shared that he has struggled to decide on the topics that could make his essay stand out. 

“I’m also quite stressed about the last minute things I feel like I can put into my application which could include new extracurriculars or courses,” Menacho said.

Menacho also shared his concerns on managing his time and finding the right balance between both his personal life and education. He finds it difficult to find time for applications when he has to still think about sports, jobs, clubs, and having a social life as part of his agenda.

“Staying consistent has easily been the most difficult part of college apps. I’m sure it’s been mentally exhausting for all my fellow seniors and I truly hope this college application process treats us well,” Menacho said. 

Senior Gabriella Bailey also finds that the hardest part about the application process is balancing the time between everything. 

Bailey wishes the College and Career course taken during her freshman year was more efficient and helpful.

“I feel that the course could have been more useful and productive,” Bailey said. “If it was, I think the class would have benefited us much more.” 

She claims that the best advice came from her brother, who is now a junior in college. 

“He told me to manage my time with everything and that the work put in pays off and is seen by the schools you apply to,” Bailey said. 

Counselors hope to start college application workshops during tutorial where students can request to meet with counselors one on one to work on applications.

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