Seniors struggle with college application process


Courtney Kurtz

Navigating the college application process can be difficult for some students

There comes a moment that most seniors both dread and look forward to in their final year of high school: the college application process. Along with the actual applications, students are also required to send their official transcripts and, in most cases, their SAT/ACT scores.

In attempt to make this process easier, Tyrone Area High School as subscribed to a service called Parchment, which current seniors must use to send their transcripts and required information to their chosen college(s).

I didn’t know what I was doing to help me get into school, and being the first child in my family to actually got to school my parents didn’t know either.

— Courtney McMonigal, former TASD student

Although administrators and staff may believe that this process is easier, there are three major drawbacks. The lack of internet access, the financial cost of college applications, and the lack of assistance from the school is making it more difficult for some students to apply to college.

Parchment is an online tool that is supposed to make it easy for seniors to send test scores and transcripts to colleges. Students are given a username and password for an account and must request to send a transcript ($3 per institution) and test scores ($13.50 per institution).

But is Parchment actually easier for the students to use than the traditional process of mailing transcripts to schools?

While some students have no issues during their application process, others find the process more challenging.

The main issue lies with students who have very little to no computer and/or internet access. If a student lacks the availability to do this online, but mailing transcripts is viewed as “unofficial”, how are students suppose to meet the requirements?

“If the school can print, stamp, and sign transcripts for scholarship applications, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to do that for college applications as well,” senior Grace McKernan said.

I’m part of the group of students who has no computer access at home to send information to my preferred colleges. As a result, its taken me more than a month to find time in school when I could get the requirements sent.

While many people take internet access for granted, the fact is that up to 20% of all American households are still lacking internet access.

Colleges need to stop assuming that every person has a computer or internet access to complete these requirements.

Another major issue for students like me are the fees to submit the information.

Why do schools require applying students to pay application and transaction fees when in today’s economy it is vital to attend post-secondary education?

By forcing students to spend money to apply, many are turning away from post-secondary education because of the financial costs.

Sure $3 and $13.50 does not seem unreasonable, but if you are applying to multiple schools, it quickly adds up.

I applied to three different schools, equaling to $9 in transcript fees and $40.50 for SAT scores. That is a total of $49.50 for required information that I would not have needed to pay before. This is not including the school’s application fee, most of which are between $30 and $50 per school.

Does it still seem cheap now?

There are fee waivers available for the Parchment program and application fees, but the school failed to point this out to the seniors.

After realizing this I was able to get a waiver, but because I didn’t get a waiver for my SAT, I was not eligible for the transcripts waivers. It was an all or nothing deal. In the end I paid almost $50 that could have been saved because the school failed to relay the information.

“The ‘best’ part is that you have to have a credit card or PayPal or something like that. I couldn’t just use my debit card as much as I HATE putting my number online,” said senior Shannon Gearhart.

Perhaps this program would be easier with assistance from the guidance department. However, many students complain about the lack of availability from our guidance counselors for college counseling.

Most seniors go through their first semester completely clueless about the college application process and financial strain it may cause because the school fails to have someone available to help struggling students.

Recent Tyrone graduate Courtney McMonigal said “I had the same issue my senior year with the counselors. Each time I went no one was ever available so I didn’t know what I was doing to help me get into school, and being the first child in my family to actually got to school my parents didn’t know either.”

My advice to anyone filling out college applications is don’t procrastinate, find someone who knows what they’re doing to assist you and be aware of available financial aid in your school.

My advice to the school, out with the old and in with the new is not always the best decision.