Clock ticking for senior applying for early decision

Writing essays, getting recommendations add to the stress


Staff Writer

CHRISKELLY staff As Kristen Lord faced a deadline to submit her college applications, she met with her guidance counselor Kathy Milroad to discuss the process.CHRISKELLY staff As Kristen Lord faced a deadline to submit her college applications, she met with her guidance counselor Kathy Milroad to discuss the process. It’s the deadlines that are making one Howell High School senior feel stressed.

“I’m feeling it [pressure] this week because I know I need to get everything in,” said senior Kristen Lord earlier this month. “The deadline is coming up. The stress is getting all the information together. There is so much to do.”

Kristen said she needs her résumé, a transcript and recommendations, and that’s in addition to her essays.

“If you don’t have one part of it, that can make your application null and void,” Kristen said. “You want to make sure you have everything.”

Filling out the name and address and personal information was easy, Kristen said. But the essays and getting everything together probably took about four or five hours.

“Some of the essay topics, my God,” Kristen said. “I had a great idea for one, but for some [topics], I had to sit down and think, what can I write for this?

“You picture admissions reading this, and it’s hard, because you want to write what you want, and then you want to write what you think they’ll like. It’s difficult.”

The senior indicated there are usually about two or three choices of topic. Some essays have a 500-word limit, while other essays may be longer.

“If I were the person making the decision, I would look at the classes that I’m taking now in high school,” Kristen said. “People that are taking not-so-demanding classes have a higher GPA. I’m struggling with an AP class. I hope they take that into consideration.”

The senior is taking AP math (statistics) and an AP English class.

Her combined SAT score is 1250 and she has a GPA of 3.9.

Kristen said she has been preparing the application materials with some help from her mom.

“She’s definitely pushing me,” said Kristen. “If it weren’t for her…”

The senior said her mom makes sure she looks at the details about all the colleges she is applying to.

“She’s pushing me to get everything done,” Kristen said. “I know that I should do it, but sometimes I just say, ‘Mom, I want to go to the mall.’

The stress goes on. There are the deadlines and getting everything in on time. Getting the recommendations and getting them into guidance on time to make the deadlines.

“I’m supposed to have all of my things in sometime this week,” said Kristen in late October, “because I have a deadline of Nov. 15 for early decision. I’m still waiting for one recommendation, so I can send it all into guidance. Guidance sends the transcripts.”

Kristen said she is waiting for one teacher’s recommendation.

“I’m still waiting for one from my English teacher,” she said.

“I really wanted hers because that’s what I’m into. I love English. I love writing. She’s had me for two years and I wanted her to write one for me.”

The recommendation from her guidance counselor is part of the application. When asked if her guidance counselor knows her, she responded, “Somewhat. There are a lot of kids in this school.”

“Students with vision are constantly mindful of their future goals and are more likely to follow through with the day-to-day work ethics,” guidance counselor Kathy Milroad said. “They become proactive not only in the academic area, but also in developing community services, and extracurricular activities in clubs and sports. Kristen Lord is this kind of student. Kristen sought opportunities to develop leadership skills through the high school peer leadership and peer mediation program, and by being co-captain of the field hockey team. She is committed to making a difference by donating her time to helping others through various clubs and extensive community service.”

With the cost of applications for each college between $40 and $60, Kristen is planning to apply for early decision at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing.

Other schools on her list include the University of Delaware and Hofstra University on Long Island, N.Y., and Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Kristen said she considers her safety school to be Monmouth University in West Long Branch.

As for the schools that she thinks she will probably make, she said hesitantly, “I’m hoping TCNJ. I think I can get in. I would say I could probably get into Hofstra. TCNJ is more like the luck of the draw. But the hardest schools for me to get into would be the University of Delaware or The College of New Jersey.”

The student said she has a lot of work to do.

“I have a batch of applications,” Kristen said. “Right now, I’ve only completely done one.”

Kristen is involved in several extracurricular activities. She is the co-captain of the varsity field hockey team.

“Dedicated, conscientious and good hearted are just a few of the many adjectives that could be used to describe Kristen Lord,” said coach Julianne Hoebee. “Kristen has been a member of the Howell Rebels field hockey program for the past four years. She has made her presence known this year on the varsity field. Kristen has stepped up and become a positive influence on the younger players, acting as a role model and mentor.”

“We made it to Shore Conference, but we lost in double overtime. Our season just ended,” Kristen noted.

Kristen said her coach was intense.

“I didn’t become close with her until I got to be a senior, Kristen said. “She relaxes a little when you’re a senior, because she knows that it’s your fourth year [playing]. She definitely pushes us. We started the season at 0 and 4, then 0 and 5. She didn’t put any pressure on us, but she didn’t give up. We wound up coming back. We had an amazing season. It was all of us working together. It wasn’t the best season, but it was the most fun we had.”

Kristen is also in a group called Anytown, which aims to fight prejudice and bigotry. There are five members in the Anytown group.

“We [also] started a new club called WYCD, What You Can Do, a club that prevents prejudice,” the senior said.

On weekends and for a few hours during the week, Kristen is a cashier at Stop & Shop. She’s been working there for one and a half years.

With all her school obligations, Kristen said she has no time to do volunteer work right now.

“I’m trying to get through school and field hockey. There’s not enough time.”

She said she did volunteer at a food pantry but is not doing so at the moment.

Like many high school seniors, she is hoping her superior grades and SAT scores, as well as her challenging courses and activities will give her the edge to being accepted at her first-choice schools, an edge that is getting more difficult to come by, school counselors say.

Milroad explained why it’s harder to get into college today.

“Many more students are seeking a college education today than in the past,” the guidance counselor said. “With many jobs going overseas, the U.S. job market has become more competitive. Companies are downsizing and so many workers find the need to switch careers, sometimes more than once or twice.

“Skilled older workers compete with the younger population for jobs. The need for a college education has become essential.”

Added Milroad: “Being competitive in today’s world of college admission takes planning, and vision, with a commitment to one’s goals. Students need to show proven success within a challenging college-prep curriculum, including honors and Advanced Placement courses.”

GPA: 3.9

SAT scores: 1250


Field hockey- co-captain

High school peer leadership,

peer mediation program


community service through clubs

Applying early decision to:

The College of New Jersey

Colleges applying to:

University of Delaware

Hofstra University, N.Y.

Rutgers University

Monmouth University