BY KAREN SUROS
The start of senior year is an exciting, yet stressful time under normal conditions. The elation students experience as they embark on their final year of high school becomes anxiety as they begin to think about their impending future. Given that this year’s seniors are not living under normal conditions, their emotions are magnified. While they’re missing out on many of the activities they’ve looked forward to their entire high school careers, the threat of the future remains.
“Applying for colleges is a very stressful ordeal,” senior Dinah Camps-Marchock said. “Balancing applying while doing school online makes me feel alone in the process.”
Although this season’s college applicants might be worried about getting things done remotely, in reality, all they need to do is trust the process. The resources necessary to complete a college application are all available online. Additionally, CCHS itself offers assistance. The Broward Advisers for Continuing Education (BRACE) office provides students with information to aid them in applying to colleges, among other endeavors.
“We are here to make applying to college as smooth as possible and help students succeed,” BRACE cadet and senior Paige Manta said.
Manta and fellow BRACE cadet Sam Carozzi work closely with CCHS BRACE advisor Christine Siwek in order to inform students of opportunities they may not be aware of and generally be available for any questions or concerns they may have.
“We are here to make applying to college as smooth as possible and help students succeed.”BRACE cadet and senior Paige Manta
Part of their role is to create implementation plans during the school year concerning college readiness, which are later submitted and approved by the county. It is actually the first year CCHS has BRACE cadets, although the BRACE office has been around for many years. Regardless of the new and scary circumstances, they are here to reassure students that some things just never change.
“Even though high school changes from time to time, the college process doesn’t,” Siwek said. “They want to know what you’ve been doing in high school, they want to know the courses that you take [and] the grades that you receive.”
A common concern given the pandemic is whether or not students will have the opportunity to improve their standardized test scores– such as SAT or ACT scores– or test at all in the first place. While test dates were cancelled for the month of August, CCHS seniors who took the free SAT offered in March of this year are already ahead of the curve.
Meanwhile, the ACT has included four dates each for the months of September and October, giving seniors plenty of chances to test. Furthermore, colleges will accept test scores from even as late December exams and the merit-based Florida Bright Futures Scholarship accepts scores through June 2021, meaning students have plenty of time to improve.
Additionally, students may be worried about meeting graduation requirements. Particularly, the 40 volunteer hours necessary to graduate, not to mention the hours necessary to meet the Bright Futures Scholarship requirements, pose a concern.
“Just know that first comes your academics,” Siwek said. “[Everything else] is a holistic review anyway, which not all colleges give.”
Overall, seniors can turn to the BRACE office for their concerns with college applications, and should trust that colleges are adapting to this pandemic just as much as students are.
“I feel very confident applying for college and many colleges are very understanding, especially during this pandemic,” Manta said. “However, I understand how college applications can be confusing and overwhelming.”
As daunting as it is to consider the future, the Cowboys are in this together with the support of the BRACE office and other resources.
“I’m always here,” Siwek said. “Don’t be intimidated by the process, and make sure you’re organized. Don’t procrastinate!”
Photo by Emma Huerta