Opinion: Shortage of senior advisories leads to confusion

    On Nov. 1, many Palo Alto High School seniors submitted their early applications for college. On Nov. 3, two days after the deadline, advisory was held for seniors for the first time in over two months.  This ineffective schedule has led to confusion and stress for seniors currently going through the college application process.

    Paly created the Teacher Advisor system in part, to provide guidance for students as they navigate post-high school planning. However, the lack of senior class advisories has created chaos and confusion during a critical time in students’ high school careers.  While current seniors could still benefit from an improved advisory system, it is imperative that Paly implement more college-oriented advisories for future senior classes.

    Seniors applying to college expect guidance from their TAs, however, this is not possible if advisories aren’t scheduled.  Although students are able to set up individual meetings with their advisors, mandatory advisories have to be implemented so all students are motivated to receive the critical information about the whole process.

    College form deadlines that are set by Paly, such as those for the Cover sheet or the NACAC form, an application to receive financial aid, have left seniors in a state of confusion.  Also, leading up to and on the due date of transcript orders, students served as peer advisors warning friends about the deadline; had an advisory been scheduled for the previous week, the chaos could have been avoided.

    According to TA coordinator Ann Deggelman, seniors have all the information they need to know about applications.

    “We set up the calendar so it’s the same every year,” Deggelman said.  “At the end of junior [year] there are a lot of junior advisories preparing them for senior year and post college planning.”

    Junior year advisories do prepare students well for upcoming events and for taking standardized testing; however, seniors do not have all the information they need to know about applications during the actual process. Students also receive the Viking Guide at the beginning of their junior year. This guide is not very beneficial because there is a great amount of information in them that students are not able to navigate through without the guidance of advisors.

    While beneficial to prepare students ahead of time, many misplace materials or forget essential information and deadlines over the summer. Additionally, the substantial amount of information given during junior year can be overwhelming and should be spread out over the course of senior year.  Seniors need to have advisory during the actual process so their TAs can guide them through the applications in real time and remind them of deadlines or timelines they should be currently aware of.

    While one of the last advisories for seniors did review early applications and financial aid for students, the meeting was held on Sept 1., two months before the actual application deadlines.  Many students did not retain all this information, nor did they carry it with them for over six weeks.

    Senior Andrea O’Riordan believes that more advisories are necessary for seniors.

    “I think the cover letter was briefly mentioned [last advisory] but other than that I don’t remember much else that we did,” O’Riordan said.

    The advisory system is meant to help students through the confusing times of college applications, but the insufficient advisory schedule makes seniors feel like Paly admin threw a great amount of information at them and then left them on their own through the actual college application process.  It was created with goals that include helping students connect with their advisors as well as reduce stress throughout their post-high school planning, but until more senior advisories are implemented with actual information about current timelines or deadlines, the system is not fulfilling its purpose.  

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