While senior year is often exciting and memorable, the year lends a great deal of stress to the graduating class. During the fall term, seniors feel the pressure to not only perform well academically, but also to excel on college applications. The term is filled with excitement, anticipation, and perhaps above all, a great deal of stress. For those uninvolved in the college process, this time period sparks a certain natural curiosity among faculty and other students.
While there is always speculation and good-natured interest in the futures of the senior class, it is important to recognize and understand that each student’s respective college process is deeply personal and unique. For this reason, it is necessary to exercise prudence and respect while asking students about the progress of their college process.
The month of December is a particularly sensitive time for students, as this is typically when many Early Decision and Early Action decisions are released—a time of excitement, disappointment, and uncertainty. If you do not have a personal relationship with a student, it is most appropriate to avoid bringing up the topic of college decisions during this time period, unless the student him/herself encourages the conversation. If you find yourself at a sit-down table with seniors, and the subject does come up in conversation, whether you are a faculty member, or a younger student, it is most wise to allow the senior to steer the conversation in a direction of which they are most comfortable.
That being said, the college process is a reality for every senior at Deerfield, and not a conversation that can always be avoided. However, it is unrealistic and insensitive to assume that students have made decisions regarding their futures during the late fall and winter. The spring term is a more acceptable time period in which to ask students about their future. After regular decision letters are released in the months from March- May, it becomes more reasonable to assume that students are closer to arriving at major decisions. As suggested by Ms. Schloat—who asks students, “Have you made a decision yet?”—vague and polite inquiry is by far the most appropriate way of engaging in such a personal conversation.