Introducing Henry West

by Natalia Nervi
It is safe to say that senior year is a stressful time for everyone. In particular, the months of September, October and November are filled with a kind of stress most students have yet to experience: college applications. In order to gain more insight into this process, The Fanscotian has selected a mystery senior, “Henry West,” to follow throughout the year as he navigates this important yet exciting time. 
“Right now I’m almost finished with my applications, my first deadline being Oct. 15,” West said. “The majority of my applications will be done after mid-November, which is a common early action/early decision deadline month.”
One common misconception about college applications has to do with using the terms early decision and early action interchangeably. Although these deadlines usually follow the same timeline, early decision is binding, which means that if accepted, the student is required to withdraw applications from other schools and attend the school to which they are accepted. Early action, however, allows students to find out their acceptance status early (usually in December or January) but have until the normal deadline (May 1) to make their decision. 
West plans on taking advantage of early decision. 
“I think early decision is beneficial because it puts you in a much smaller application pool,” West said. “This can really help your chances of getting in somewhere.”
However, he realizes that this path is not for everyone. 
“Since you can only choose one school for early decision, you have to be wise and only pick a school you would really want to attend if they accept you,” West said.
The Coronavirus pandemic has affected many aspects of the college process, including the cancellation of standardized testing, which has led many schools to become test-optional for 2021 applicants. 
However, one of the biggest impacts the Coronavirus has had on students is the inability to go on official campus tours, a cornerstone of the college decision process. These visits are a great way to see whether or not a school would be the right fit for a prospective student. There is a huge difference between doing virtual tours and listening to info sessions online at home rather than being able to physically be on campus and get a sense of the environment for yourself.  West, along with many other seniors this year, has had to get creative. 
I’ve enjoyed touring schools in-person and virtually,” West said. “Even though it’s not the same, it’s still helpful.” 
Fortunately for West, the Coronavirus hasn’t been all bad news. He says that virtual learning has actually given him more time to focus on applications. 
“I have the convenience of being able to do my school work and attend classes all in the comfort of my own home, which has been nice,” West said. “With school beginning over a screen, I think it eases a lot of the pre-existing tension of applying to college.”
Despite the extra time, it can still be hard sometimes to find the motivation to get work done. 
“Building motivation to sit down and write about myself as a student has particularly been a challenge for me,” West said. “A lot of times, I would rather go outside or drive around on the weekends than write, but the truth is, these essays are not going to write themselves.”
One piece of advice West has to offer is to take advantage of the resources you are given. 
“At the center of the college application process is my best friend, Naviance,” West said. “As an underclassman, I never truly understood how much information is there and how helpful it would be in the future. Letters of recommendation, transcripts, GPA weighted and unweighted, college acceptance rates and my comparison to other applicants are all in one place.” 
Curious to know what will happen next? Look out for more Henry West updates in the following issues! In the final issue, all will be revealed, including his identity.