College Decisions Season is Here!


Photo Courtesy of Ryan Peele

Ryan Peele, Reporter

With winter coming to an end and spring fast approaching, there is only one thing on the minds of Briar Woods seniors: college admissions. After the finalization of mid-year grades, students in the class of 2023 have turned their focus toward college admissions. Set to come out this month are the highly anticipated decisions for UVA and Virginia Techs’ early action applicants.

Despite the nervousness of many students, Emily Pilat, the Assistant Director of Admissions for Roanoke College, encourages students “to keep an open mind. You need to be aware that you might not be the best fit for their campus and community. When you receive a ‘No’ answer from your school of choice with a denial or even a ‘Maybe’…it can be very tough to hear. But ultimately, that college or university has determined they are not the best fit for you.”

Pilat also gave words of advice to future college applicants, saying “a key area in what I look] for [on an application] is what [the student] has been involved in! This could be… clubs or athletic programs, employment, or internship opportunities, or where you have volunteered in your community or with your family as a caretaker… I also love looking at applicant’s courses during their senior year. Are they coasting… or continuing to challenge themselves?” 

Though many Briar Woods students are concerned that their grades and activities are not enough for their top schools, an anonymous Briar senior offered reassurance, saying, “[I’ve gotten into]… all the ‘B tier’ Virginia schools. There definitely is a stigma given that ‘oh you’re not smart if you don’t go to UVA, VT, or William and Mary’… there are good schools beyond the big three. University of Mary Washington might be better for … [a] small student body vibe. VCU is great for those who like an urban area and want to pursue arts. There’s still definitely merit in the top 3 VA schools, but there shouldn’t be shame if a student chooses another school.” 

The senior continued, citing increasingly more competitive admissions as a reason for all the stress during decision  season. “[The application process is] most definitely [getting more competitive every year]. The selective schools are getting more selective year by year. It gets harder when you’re blessed with a strong school district. I do believe in 15-20 years there will be a change in value of a college degree versus skill set, but obviously we aren’t at that point yet. Overall, while it might seem upsetting [that] there’s so much competition, especially in a place like Loudoun County, kids should honestly view it as a blessing, not a curse. Education is so unequal in this country that some kids are never even given the tools to succeed.”

More competition isn’t the only factor in college admissions becoming increasingly more difficult. “I think coming out of COVID, it’s definitely harder for [the college classes of] 2026 and 2027 than it was for [the college classes of] 2024 and 2025. Everything is switching back to what it was and new policies and adjusting to life back inside the classroom which directly affects college applications,” said a senior attending a high school in Long Island, New York, “I think [the class of] 2026 and 2027 are gonna be the worst [for getting admitted to colleges]. The class of 2028 [and beyond] will [have it] difficult if they were in high school during the pandemic years, but eventually it will right itself once students get more normal years under their belts.” 

Nerves are at an all time high amongst the seniors of Briar Woods and many graduating students, from Loudoun to Long Island, with some terrified of being rejected from their top schools. Still, in the grand scheme of things, applying to college is just the beginning, and the Briar senior advised both present and future applicants that although “There will be times where you feel kicked in the face… ultimately, remember in a few years, you’ll be doing alright, kid.”