Getting Schooled: Choosing a College Is Stressful

Lizzy Bensen 5

By Beth Williams, Current Staff

With graduation right around the corner, numerous WBHS seniors are taking the time to finalize decisions about their futures.

For East senior Elizabeth Bensen, however, the decision was not quite so easy.

“I applied to 14 schools,” Bensen said.

Some of the schools that Bensen applied to include University of Wisconsin – Madison, Marquette University, University of Vermont, Middlebury College, University of Denver, and University of Colorado Boulder.

When asked why she applied to so many schools, Bensen said that she didn’t really know where she wanted to go.

“I was maybe interested in going out of state, to pursue different adventures,” Bensen said. “That’s why I looked at more out-of-state schools than in-state schools.”

Bensen also credits some online tools, such as the Common Application, an undergraduate college admission application that enables its users to apply to nearly 700 colleges and universities, with prompting her decision to apply to so many schools.

“A lot of [the colleges I wanted to go to] were on the Common Application, so I just used my same essays for the colleges. And a lot of the college applications were free,” Bensen said.

Lizzy Bensen4

Elizabeth Bensen

Bensen narrowed down her decision by making multiple pros-cons lists.

“Obviously, I had like eight or so [schools] and I narrowed it down to four. Even narrowing it down from four to two took a long time.  But, I did, and decided between Colorado Boulder and University of Wisconsin – Madison,” Bensen said.

In the end, with the May 1 deadline approaching, Bensen chose to attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison this upcoming fall.

“It was a really tough decision,” Bensen said. “I chose Madison because it’s a great school and I wanted to save some money in the end to pursue maybe graduate school, or study abroad, or other things.”

Miranda Paikowski, another East senior, also faced challenges while trying to make her own college decision.

“I was originally, like when I was a sophomore, going to go to Fordham University in New York,” Paikowski said. “Now I’m going to Carthage College, which is in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And I’m going there to double major in English and French, and double minor in dance and art.”

Paikowski’s original plans changed due to unforeseen factors, such as the acceptance rate of Fordham University.

“Price was a big [factor], because Fordham was actually less expensive than Carthage.  But, [Fordham] is very hard to get in. I didn’t even apply,” Paikowski said.

“I think that Carthage is a better choice for me personally. I don’t want to be alone in a big city, and it has small class sizes, there are great professors [at Carthage] from Harvard and Yale. It just has everything I need,” Paikowski said.

For seniors who are still deciding or are unsure of what path they want to pursue next fall, the counseling offices at the high school are able to offer assistance at any point in the year.

According to Lois Pellegrini, a counselor at West, the counseling office can continue to send out transcripts at any time, just in case a student changes his or her mind.

“Doing your legwork really gets you to a place to be able to make decisions.”
– Lois Pellegrini, West counselor

Also, Pellegrini suggests the University of Wisconsin – Washington County, otherwise known as UW-WC, to students who are experiencing difficulties over their decisions.

“UW-WC is an excellent option for kids who want to use it as a financial aid strategy,” Pellegrini said. “It is really a golden part of the UW system; it has the same coursework [as other schools] and is meant to be a transfer institution. It’s a good backup.”

The University of Wisconsin – Washington County is also a valuable “backup” school because it rarely closes its admissions to incoming freshmen.

“Some of the campuses will close the freshmen class, and some of the others will take late admits. There was only one year at UW-WC that they closed the freshmen class because they just couldn’t take any more students,” Pellegrini said.

For those who are still deciding their paths, Pellegrini offers this advice: “Doing your legwork really gets you to a place to be able to make those decisions.”

“The options available to [seniors] are amazing. You guys are amazing people, and I hope it’s exciting for all of you,” Pellegrini said. “I know it’s stressful, but information and communication are the key. And for that stress level, you can have some control over that by informing yourself.”

(Images: Elizabeth Bensen, East senior, considers her college choices on May 24. Photographs by Hannah Bensen, Current Staff.)

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