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High Anxiety For Students Awaiting College Admissions Letters


March 27, 2012

Despite the chill, Asiona Findletar ventured outside extra early Tuesday morning.

It's that compulsion typical of many college-bound high school seniors this time of year.

"I got up at 5:04 and went to the mailbox," said Findletar, 17, hours later at New Britain High School.

The aspiring trauma surgeon had received five college acceptance letters including a yes from her top choice at this point, University of Hartford but she is still awaiting word from Wesleyan University, where she has been part of the college's Upward Bound Math-Science program.

Findletar, who would be the first in her immediate family to attend a university, also hadn't heard from Trinity College. The mailbox offered no clues. Not yet, anyway.

Colleges throughout the nation usually notify applicants that they are accepted or rejected by April 1. Families, friends and teachers in Connecticut are dealing with the highs and lows. Even seniors who celebrated an admissions offer weeks or months ago say these days are heavy with stress over financial aid.

Overall, said Stan Glowiak, a New Britain guidance counselor, this is a difficult time for students.

At West Hartford's Hall High School, the high-pressure stakes of college admissions even inspired an Off Broadway play that Hall students will perform in Friday and Saturday, a first for the school.

New York City playwright August Schulenburg wrote "Under a Better Sky" after interviewing students in Sean Harris' honors acting class last year. The 15-person play depicts a post-apocalyptic world in which much of society lives in deadly squalor except for the elite students accepted annually to live in the walled city of Elysium.

Battles rage. At a rehearsal Monday, the Hall juniors and seniors wielded fake swords and knives in one of the several fight scenes between the haves and have-nots.

"This time of year, they're all stressing out so much about their futures, what they're going to be doing in their lives," Harris said of his students. The competition and "the pressure about getting into college ... is something that's going to be very valuable to them later on, but it's so awful. They're crying a lot."

A few days ago, Harris said, he even had to stop rehearsal to let the students regroup. "Everybody's head was all over the place. They were freaking out about everything. ... Some of them got rejected or accepted. Everything was just chaotic. Sometimes I have to take a step back and go, 'OK, let's change gears.'"

Conor Proft, a Hall senior who plays a soldier in Elysium, was dealt a blow Saturday: He logged onto a computer and learned that he didn't get into Boston University's acting program, his top choice.

"It was rough," said Proft, 17. "I've recovered for the most part, I guess. I was upset Saturday, but after that I kind of realized I've been lucky so far, so I should be happy with what I have."

Proft's acceptances include Elon University in North Carolina, Syracuse University, Ithaca College and the University of Connecticut.

Another honors actor, Hall senior Katherine Minnes, was put on the waiting list at George Washington University and has been offered admission to schools such as Cornell University and Boston College. She was awaiting word from Williams College, the University of Richmond and Columbia University, but seemed calm about it.

"I'm going to find out when we're in New York," said Minnes, 17, who will be performing with her classmates at The Producers Club on West 44th Street. She is leaning toward Cornell but added, "I'm still not sure. Money is a factor."

Across town at Conard High School, 18-year-old Chloe Samuels' main concern is how to pay for her bachelor's degree. She got her acceptance package from Mitchell College in New London last month. The estimated annual cost for Mitchell students who live on campus is slightly more than $40,000.

"I'm a hard worker and eventually I'll pay it off, maybe until the day I die," said Samuels, who works at Elmwood Pastry Shop and has interests in radio and accounting. "It's going to be worth it."

Conard senior Giordan Kritzman said his parents have suggested that he find a school that would cost them no more than $100,000 in four years. One of his ideal options, the College of New Jersey, cost $35,518 this year for out-of-state students.

On Saturday, the college's school of science informed Kritzman that all its seats were taken and that he would need to choose a new major to be considered. He applied to nine schools and was waiting for mail from Temple University and the State University of New York this week.

"I got sick of checking online," said Kritzman, 18, a potential pre-med student who moved to the United States from Colombia about two years ago. "It gets to the point where you're, like, done with it."

In New Britain, Dominik Suwala learned on March 14, Pi Day, that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had rejected him. Last year, only 9.7 percent of applicants were admitted to MIT.

"I was sort of expecting it," Suwala, 17, said Tuesday. He plans to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.

But fellow New Britain High senior Shanice Outar remained in limbo. She received no word from Southern Connecticut State University, even though other students had probably because Outar's original application was missing a transcript and letter of recommendation, which she has since submitted.

"I was going to call them today to check on my application," said the 18-year-old, who appeared nervous.

Greta Gabriel, 17, also of New Britain, is anticipating sunshine.

Gabriel is waiting to hear this week from the University of Southern California and Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. She got acceptance letters from the University of Tampa in Florida, three state colleges in California and her top pick, Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

"Either way," said Gabriel, who is interested in film, "I'm getting warm weather."

And for Findletar, there is still the unknown. She likes the University of Hartford but said its proposed financial aid package is not enough for her family the aid would cover roughly half of the hefty tuition costs. So the teenager is weighing her options.

Wesleyan offers online notification of admission decisions, but Findletar is intent on finding out the old-fashioned way: theU.S. Postal Service.

"I checked," she texted Tuesday evening. "No mail."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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