Experiencing Ivy Day at Oak Park

The stress and pressure of Ivy Leauge’s decisions

Megan McCoy, Lily Huynh, and Lily Huynh

Every year around the end of March, high school students begin to bite their nails over the thought of college decisions being released. Every year, all the eight Ivies — Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Penn and Brown release their decisions on the exact same day and usually at the same time. This day is often stressful for students who’ve arguably worked their whole life towards this decision. 

It’s no secret that Oak Park High School is academically rigorous and more than a handful of students apply to at least one Ivy League school each year. 

“I’m not sure if my stress level is the same as others because I applied to one Ivy League due to the fact that was the school I was recruited by Harvard for golf. However, since the college recruiting period started at the end of my sophomore year, I would say that those first few months in the summer before my junior year and the beginning of that school year were extremely stressful,” senior Charissa Shang said.

After many months of perfecting their application, students undergo a few more months of silence. Without a doubt many students report that they struggle mentally with the college decision process and the atmosphere it creates. 

Arizona State University Admissions states, “Applying to that #1 dream school can be nerve-wracking — what if they don’t get in? What if they don’t get into any schools at all? A lot of pressure is put on college admittance, and a denial can feel like a personal failure.”

The college admission process maybe a tense procedure that many seniors go through in order to get into their dream colleges. 

According to Forbes, “College admission exacerbates the stress young people feel by feeding competition among classmates. From comparing test scores to obsessing about class rank, schools create a Hunger Games environment where students are clamoring for a coveted spot at a selective college or university.”

Some believe that the COVID-19 pandemic acted as an additional stressor to the already present stress of college admissions. 

“COVID brought additional stressors to students and families, in some cases traumatic experiences, which have a pervasive impact. With students not having access to participate in their education and outside endeavors as they would have prior to COVID, as well as the changes in test-optional or test-blind admission policies during this time, worries existed about how colleges would evaluate applicants and make admission decisions. It naturally created more unease and uncertainty about how colleges would evaluate students when the landscape looked so different and impacted students in different ways,” school counselor Jenny Charrett said.

During quarantine, it was especially difficult for students to decide which colleges to apply to because campus visits were not allowed. 

“Initially it was pretty stressful committing to an Ivy League school because it was hard figuring out what type of school I truly wanted to attend. It was also difficult because during the recruiting and commitment period, most college campuses didn’t allow visitors due to COVID policy, so I had to compare the different Ivy leagues based on online research and past knowledge,” Shang said.

Ivy Day at OPHS has been a recurring event for many years. Students continue to check their mailboxes or refresh their emails, awaiting the final decision. 

“We often hear worries from students about their ability to get into ‘a good college.’ Unfortunately, it seems that the reference point for a good college is often one that is highly selective or well known,” Charrett said.