A Senior’s Tale of College Apps and Seasonal Depression

A poor high school senior on the verge of collapse.

Picture by Ashlee Guardado

A poor high school senior on the verge of collapse.

It’s November! Fall leaves beneath your feet, the occasional kiss of rain, steaming hot cocoa warming your palms; it’s arguably the happiest time of the year. And yet here we are, yes we, crying onto financial aid forms and drooling on our personal statement essays. Full of existential dread and exhaustion, I often wonder how I’ll survive finals season. 

One of my beloved teachers, Mrs. McElroy, cheerfully pointed out that for most of us, this is the last autumn of our childhoods. After graduation, we are thrown into the big dog playpen at the ripe and apparently mature age of eighteen. For the non-seniors who feel miles away from filling out college applications, I’ll be the first to tell you about your impending doom. The four years you spend protected within the comfort of the warm Quartz Hill concrete walls are fickle. One day you’re doing Punnett squares with Mrs. Estrada, and the next, you’re flooding her email for letters of recommendation. 

This horror, combined with the sun setting at 4 p.m., makes for a disastrous season of bone-chilling sadness. You can try to warm your soul with latte after latte, but after a while, I’ve learned you just have to accept that sometimes, life gets tough. The seesaw gets flipped in the wrong direction, and suddenly, you’re in the face of an uphill battle with Antelope Valley wind beating against your face. 

I don’t write this for the sake of being morbid– not entirely– I write to be honest. To let you know that it’s okay if you press snooze five times or wear your toothpaste-stained pajamas to school. For some of you, this is the last autumn of your childhood! Instead of letting those words haunt your every moment, take them as a gift. You’ve been given one final chance at adolescence; take advantage of the occasional rain and dance in it! Bundle yourself up like your mom did when you were five and come to school as a walking marshmallow, soft and warm. 

So as you research colleges, don’t forget the kid that you are. Don’t lose yourself in statistics and acceptance rates or if you participated in as many clubs as the student next to you. Make time for the people you love because this may be the last time they see you youthful and bright, untouched by the world of loans and housing shortages. The upcoming months are cold but don’t have to be numbing. While you pour your heart into your enrollment essays, consider the vulnerable pieces of yourself you’ve yet to share; sit by a fire with a friend, let them warm you.