The class of 2022 tackles senior year and the college preparation process


Credit: Charlotte Thirman

Wayland High School seniors gather outside on the first day of school for a class picture. In the upcoming year, many members of the class of 2022 will face the stressful college application process, in addition to spending one last year with their grade. “I’m looking forward to the last year with our grade,” senior Sidney O’Rourke said. “Obviously I hope things are somewhat normal just because the last two years have not been at all. I’m looking forward to just senior events, hopefully, they’ll be fun, even with Covid.”

Delia Caulfield

The 2021-2022 school year marks the final year of high school for Wayland’s senior class. Many seniors have expressed their views on what their final year of high school will look like, especially with the threat of COVID-19 still looming. In addition, seniors are now facing some of the strictest deadlines as they prepare to apply to the school they will spend the next four years at.

For most students, the college preparation process begins months before they are even proclaimed seniors. This has included students taking the SAT, writing college essays and visiting schools to get an idea of what feels like home.

“I wrote my essay over the summer, and I already took one SAT, ” senior Jack Mehlman said. “I didn’t love how I did, so I’m taking another one in October. My guidance counselor says that he sees the best scores fall of senior year, so that’s what we’re going with. And other than that, it’s been pretty chill. I feel like I’ve kind of gotten a list of schools that I want to go to, and we went to some of them. I’m just kind of looking at the pros and cons of all of them.”

In addition to preparing for college academically, many prospective college athletes have been taking a different approach to the application process. Senior lacrosse player Sidney O’Rourke is weighing colleges based on both their academic and athletic strengths.

“[The college preparation process] is kind of different because I am probably going to play lacrosse in college, so I’m sure it’s different from like the average student,” O’Rourke said. “For me, it’s like a lot of going and visiting schools and talking to coaches and meeting the teams because, in the end, I will most likely only be applying to one school.”

Despite a vast number of students’ unrest entering senior year, many feel prepared to take on the time-consuming application process. Additionally, many argue that receiving extra help can be immensely beneficial for success during this process.

“I kind of thought [the college preparation process] would be rigorous and complex, and it is, but I personally got a college counselor which helped early on,” senior Nina Price said. “I got a lot of my work done this summer. I already finished my essay and gone on a few in-person college tours and figured out what schools are like so far, so I feel like I’m a little more ahead of the game with the college process.”

Aside from preparing for college, WHS seniors are facing the dilemma regarding the fear of the unknown. The beginning of the school year marks almost a year and a half since the shutdown of schools due to the pandemic. This year’s senior class hasn’t experienced a full year of normalcy since they were freshmen. Due to these circumstances, many are eager for a year as close to normal as possible, so they can experience what a real year of high school looks like.

“The only real year we had was freshman year, and obviously freshman year you aren’t really a part of the high school culture yet I feel like,” O’Rourke said. “So, I think compared to the other years, I feel like I have nothing to prove senior year. We know we’re the oldest in the school, so we can kinda do what we want, to an extent, and hopefully it’ll be a little less strict with COVID-19.”

Despite the loosening of COVID-19 protocols, many students are still unsure of what their senior year will allow due to the pandemic. However, many feel hopeful that normalcy is achievable in the upcoming year, especially with an increase in vaccinations over the past few months.

One of the many ways that senior year is distinguished from the other years of high school is the numerous events that take place to celebrate the senior class. This year, seniors will be able to partake in highly anticipated events such as prom, the senior cruise, senior skip day and more. These events are anxiously awaited by seniors, as they allow students to spend time with their classmates before they go their separate ways.

“I’m looking forward to the last year with our grade,” O’Rourke said. “Obviously I hope things are somewhat normal just because the last two years have not been at all. I’m looking forward to just senior events, hopefully, they’ll be fun, even with Covid.”

— Sidney O’Rourke

Along with the much-anticipated senior events students get to partake in, there are many other things seniors look forward to in their final year. One of these being the variety of classes that are offered. Different from other years of high school, seniors can choose from a variety of courses that cater to their interests which is exciting to many.

“I’m looking forward to my classes, I think they’re going to be super fun this year,” Mehlman said. “I’m taking Connect, Business Law and Business Entrepreneurship and Management because I want to study business in college, so I feel like it will give me a pretty good leg up when I go to college.”

It’s common for students to feel stressed during the school year, as they are attempting to manage a variety of assignments at once. However, the beginning of senior year contributes a new component of stress, as seniors are focused on their college applications, in addition to managing an intense workload from school.

“Usually my workload stresses me out because it’s hard to juggle a bunch of assignments from a bunch of different subjects all at once, especially [during] junior year,” Mehlman said. “I find that pretty hard, but I think [senior] year will be a little lighter, and hopefully I’ll know how to balance my workload better as a senior.”

Overall, the class of 2022 has shown the school that they are determined to enjoy the upcoming year, despite any challenges thrown their way.

“I feel like there’s a little bit more of an aesthetic to senior year,” Price said. “Everything will be a little more exciting or wholesome just because it’s the last year and everything will feel kind of more momentous.”