Why We Are Scared

As applications are returned and the looming decision deadline nears, high school seniors are feeling anxious and nervous for what comes next


A rush of emotions falls over high school seniors as they open the decision letter from their school of choice—the adrenaline almost drowns out the nervousness with excitement. It’s hard to say if that wave of emotion ever truly feels good, even if that letter is offering you admission. Right now, seniors are receiving the last of their acceptance letters as we near the decision deadline, May 1, giving many students less than two months to decide on a college. 

It feels as if the stress put upon students is endless and, ironically, college, which for many represented the light at the end of the tunnel, now looks more jarring than inviting. However, students’ desire to appear ready and excited is driving some into feelings of isolation . It’s difficult for students to admit they are worried or scared about their future, being vulnerable in front of your peers is uncomfortable. And most students avoid such discomfort at all costs.  

In an effort to learn more, I asked seniors at Summit High School to share their experiences with us anonymously. The answers we received shed some light on what was going through their minds from the beginning of the application process to now, and why they’re scared. 

How or why have college applications caused you stress?

“I want to get into my top choices and applying for college has made me stress more about the cost of college.”

“I fear what their answer will be.”

 “We have to do the whole application process on top of all of our homework. Then we have to wait for months to find out if we got in before even making a decision.”

“Yeah, deadlines suck and there’s stress and if all my schools reject me and I don’t have a plan.”

“Deciding where to go to start the rest of your life is a big decision.”


Students feel pressured to get into their dream schools, which can make the application process feel like a massive roadblock sitting between them and their goals. However, a small portion of students who claimed they started their applications early, were planning to take a gap year or that they were going to go to community college said that the process was relatively stress free. Getting prepared early can help ease stress, however as many are now beginning to experience, the decision on which school to actually attend can be just as stressful if not more so.

Are you worried about going to college?

“I’m more anxious but excited. I’m looking forward to being on my own but I know adjusting won’t be easy.”

“I’m mostly excited to start fresh.”

“I am a little nervous about college just because it is a brand new place with brand new people, but I am also excited for that.”

“I’ll be on my own but I’m more excited than anything.”

“’I’m not really scared or worried, but I think I will miss my family and have to learn to be more independent.”

“I am just anxious about new experiences.”


These students have been in school for most of their lives, and they are ready for a change. Each day they wake up closer to graduation and the eagerness grows, as does the anxiety. Moving on from high school requires many students to leave home behind, which means much more than just their homes. We are ready to explore new horizons, and for the most part students are hopeful. But we are also scared, and students shouldn’t have to feel alone in their fears. We aren’t scared of the change, we are nervous about growing.

I am most afraid to leave behind… 

“My dad’s cooking.”

“My family, and my dogs.”

“My siblings.”

“My mom and sister and friends.”

“My sister, I don’t know how I’ll live without her.”

“My little sister, who’s 6 right now. I feel bad for her that I’ll be gone so much.”

“I’m worried about her and how she’ll do.

“The safety net that is my parents, family, car, house and friends.”

“My life here.”

“My coaches and my team.”

“My childhood.”

“Familiarity.”  -Summit High School.