College decision season: where are seniors headed next year?


Olivia Mendoza

Future cross-town rivals, Oscar Shi (12) and Samantha Fong (12), have committed to attend to USC and UCLA for the fall semester.

Olivia Mendoza

Now that the long and arduous wait for college acceptances has been completed, many seniors on campus had to face the even more daunting choice of selecting where they want to attend school after graduation. 

Nights of studying and participating in extracurricular activities are slowly coming to an end as senioritis begins to take over the minds of the graduating class of 2023. Minds are slightly easing as final decisions have just been made, but how has the admissions process changed over the years for this graduating class of seniors? 

Since the 2020 school year, college applications have increased 30% from students graduating in 2023. When looking at the statistics regarding submitting standardized test scores like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Testing (ACT), there has been a sharp decrease from 74% (2019-2020) to 44% (2022-2023). 

With the true level of competitiveness rising each year, it has quickly become a struggle for students to get accepted and get enough financial aid for the school year. Around Ayala, many students have resorted to going to community colleges to fulfill their general education requirements before transferring to a four-year university. 

But for those that were selected by the top institutions in California to attend these schools, the process was not entirely easy. 

“I was part of a couple of clubs during the school year and then I joined an outside outreach organization,” senior Karen Lee said. “I led a volunteer organization and I did tutoring a lot which helped with my leadership skills. I also took eight AP (Advanced Placement) classes.” 

Lee is set to attend the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). 

“A lot of my extracurricular were about volunteer work, working with people, and working with children,” said Lee. “My major was education so I feel like that just lines up. I feel like if I did all of those activities and then applied for biology, then I wouldn’t have gotten it because it just doesn’t make sense.”

For other students that still focused heavily on academics, their personal essays were big contributors that made them stand out among other applicants. 

“I think my acceptance to UCI [University of California, Irvine] was kind of a surprise,” senior Kirsten Singh said. “But I think what made me stick out was probably what happened to me over the summer with my medical issues and I wrote about my experience for my applications.” 

After National Decision Day, May 1st, most students revealed that they would be attending schools throughout the state of California. Only a handful of seniors had the ability to travel across the country, and with that comes a new environment with multiple opportunities that are not offered near home. 

“I decided to go to Alabama because they gave me the most money,” senior Gigi Gonzales said. “Living alone without having any family or knowing anyone will be a big challenge, but it will be fun. It’ll teach me how to live on my own.” 

With an abundance of acceptances this year, current seniors hope to provide underclassmen with advice that will aid students in the months ahead. 

“Start early. I started early and I kept changing it. One of my essays I literally wrote the day I turned it in, but I was able to do that because I had ideas from previous drafts,” said Lee. “I would say don’t be too stressed about the structure because it can be so creative and so free and then you can just brain dump ideas to get a final draft.” 

Most importantly, Lee hopes that students take away from her biggest piece of advice. 

“You’re not better than everyone else because you got into certain schools and you’re not worse than everyone because you didn’t. Everyone is at their own pace, and always looks at the long term because the short term really doesn’t matter.”