Courtesy of Creative Commons
The college application process is long, complex, and often frustrating for many rising WCHS seniors. It includes asking teachers for recommendations, writing long, personal essays, and taking several state and national tests many times in order to maximize scores. Senior year, much like any other school year, has AP classes, homework, and other school related stresses to deal with. The goal is to finish applications in the summer to be able to focus on school during the year. However, MCPS’ current policies prevent applications from being submitted at all until the start of the school year, causing stress for many.
Much of the heavy lifting of the application process can be completed over the summer. College essays can be written, AP scores are received and can be submitted, and the framework of the application can be built. Yet, MCPS blocks the final steps of the application process.
The 2 major reasons for MCPS delays are the submission of a full transcript from the registrar and teacher recommendations. Both are, of course, essential. Colleges need recommendations for confirmation on a student’s abilities and character, and they obviously need a transcript to see a student’s grades, GPA, and other important academic statistics. Neither of these, however, can be accessed before September of a student’s senior year.
While these policies have bureaucratic justification from MCPS, in reality they make little to no sense whatsoever. Take, for example, teacher recommendations. The teachers know the students who are currently in their classes best, and would be logically able to write the most accurate account of a student during that time. Waiting several months throughout the summer lets the finer details slip away. At the start of the new school year, teachers are busy getting to know their new classes on top of now having to recall and write for the old ones. The system makes little sense as it stands.
The transcript is even more odd, because it is literally just a sheet of paper. Having to wait in the registrar line to get one is an outdated practice that should be minimized anyways. Every statistic and measure shown on a high school transcript is available to the school at any time, and student grades and statistics are available online. So, why does this particular form still have to be handed down in person? When guidance counselors visited the class of 2020 earlier this year, they made it very clear that students should not even ask the registrar for a transcript until September. While waiting until the end of the year is fair since semester grades are not yet final, keeping it from students through the entire summer when it could easily be made available online is counterproductive.
Overall, having to wait to submit applications until the school year makes many students unnecessarily stressed. Application deadlines are not set until far after the year starts, but having to balance homework, classwork and school in general with the process only adds to student anxiety.