Seniors leap through the final hurdles of high school



A survey of 17 students from May 18 to May 25.

Liam Umbs

While senior Jacynth Apora of Englishtown was happy to commit to Rutgers University, she, like many of her peers, did so without ever visiting campus.

For the Class of 2021, the coronavirus pandemic meant drastic changes to the college search, application and commitment process. From complications with standardized testing to virtual college tours, seniors had to cope with one roadblock after another all while searching for the perfect place to call home for the next four years.

Although Apora said that not being able to visit campuses caused her to apply to fewer colleges than she would have in a normal year, others felt the need to apply to more schools for the exact same reason.

“I applied to 16 schools. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” said senior Leigh Lustig of Manalapan. “I wasn’t really sure of anything just because I’d only been to four schools before everything shut down.”

Lustig, who will be attending the University of Texas at Austin, said that getting the chance to visit the campus this year during spring break helped her get a complete picture of the environment and finalize her decision tocommit.

“I genuinely don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t have visited this school just because it is so hard to judge a school… online,” Lustig said. “Universities can definitely hide things online… but when you go there and see it with your own eyes, that’s a completely different story.”

For current juniors, their college search process is starting under the same circumstances that the seniors dealt with. While guidance counselor Melanie Sambataro said that virtual tours, college fairs and presentations can give a good initial feel of a school and she encourages students to take advantage of them, visiting a campus that is open for in-person tours can provide additional insight.

“You can learn a lot about what you like and dislike in a school by visiting a campus, such as school size, location, etc., even if it is not one you necessarily want to attend. This can help you get started on what schools should be on ‘your list,’” Sambataro said.

As the seniors prepare to move on to the next stage of their life, many feel that they lost what had been promised to them as the greatest year of their lives, as traditions, activities and an overall sense of normalcy suddenly disappeared.

Apora said that she had been looking forward to Senior Switch Day and is disappointed about missing out on the tradition.

“It was fun just [because] the teachers would usually just hang out with the students also while seniors took over some fun activities,” Apora said.

Lustig also mentioned that she is upset about missing out on everything she had looked forward to for four years. Although she appreciates what the school has been able to organize at the end of the year, she said she would rather have had the Class of 2020’s situation if she could choose.

“I know a lot of people would probably disagree with me, but… I would have rather had 75% of the normal senior year and then just having them drop the ball… than having 80% wrecked senior year, 20% meh,” Lustig said.

The sudden loss of all normalcy has made many seniors feel a lack of closure as they approach graduation. Apora said that she feels unprepared to move on after being disconnected from the CHS family.

“I feel like we’re just such a community… it’s going to be very hard leaving that,” Apora said. “That’s the closure that I will never cope with because the pandemic has taken so much time away from my friends and from talking to teachers and other people.”

Regardless, Apora said she is excited for what the future will bring and is grateful for her time and experiences in high school.

“Being a student at CHS has really taught me how to feel more excited about the future than afraid of it and taught me how to seize the day and to take every opportunity that comes my way,” Apora said. “I used to be afraid because I used to just hate change but now I feel like, because I’ve been in such a positive environment, I’m going to be able to take that positivity and the good memories with me.”