By Nora Sun, Tech Editor
After a temperamental spring, it seems like summer has finally arrived in Chicago. Alongside the new construction projects on Wells Street and the end of AP exams comes the graduation of another class of Payton students.
As their days at Payton are rapidly winding down, seniors have conveyed varying sentiments about their academic and social experiences during high school.
When asked if they would choose to attend Payton if they could make the decision again, most seniors leaned towards yes, with a few outliers. Those who regret attending Payton cite a toxic, competitive atmosphere, whereas those who would attend Payton again typically stated that friends were the highlight of their Payton experience, leading to the question of how close Payton students hope to remain with their high school friends after graduation.
Despite the number of responses that highlighted friendships and relationships formed at Payton, only half of Payton students wish to remain very close with their friends after graduation. Several students stated the importance of making decisions for the future, independent of current relationships.
”Don’t go to the same school as your friends,” one survey respondent advised.
“Think about what you want from your life, and chase that—not your friends, not your parents, not your partner, you,” another concurred.
Satisfaction with college results among seniors was split. While just over half of seniors responded with a high level of satisfaction (8, 9, or 10), the other half had lukewarm or negative sentiments about their results.
This is reflected in the sentiment that many seniors feel they have not made the most out of the opportunities provided to them at Payton, whether that is considered a fault of the school or the students or neither.
When asked to wrap up their Payton experience in only 3 words, many words reflected the academics of Payton — “rigorous”, “stressful”, and “growth” were among the most common words. Some opted for more negative words such as “jealousy”, “burnout”, and “could be better.” Others sounded like the average teenager’s coming-of-age — “chaotic”, “memorable”, “eye-opening”, and “freedom”.
However, the most commonly reflected sentiment from seniors was “relief”.
“I feel such a wave of relief and burn out… It feels like the culmination of all we have worked for four years,” said senior Lucy Gold.
“I don’t feel any regrets because when I’m on campus in the future, none of this will matter, and even further down the line, it will seem very trivial,” senior Natalie Soutonglang said.
Most seniors also expressed excitement and optimism about their future after high school.
“I’m excited to renew my love for learning after burning out senior year,” a survey respondent said.
Though not all seniors had a positive college application or high school experience at Payton, they are casting a hopeful gaze towards whatever future that awaits.
Selected Survey Responses
Here is some advice from the class of 2022.
What is the most important thing you learned at Payton?
– Eventually, you will fail – and no one will wait for you to get up.
– When occupying an unsupportive, individualistic space like Payton, you have to make sure you find your people and stick with them.
– Learning how to self-advocate, knowing how to speak for yourself.
– Learn independently. Especially in AP Chem, I was able to become better at efficiently absorbing and digesting new information.
– Take advantage of what’s available at our school.
– Find your own happiness, do not get caught up in what others around you may be doing to find joy.
Tell the incoming freshman one small tip or trick that would make their life at Payton easier.
– Go at your pace, pay attention, and really experience everything at school.
– Make connections with your teachers—support systems are huge for success.
– Be nice and don’t be afraid to branch out to multiple groups.
– The second floor old building fountain has the best water
– Join a fall sport freshman year!
– Don’t take things too personally and don’t hang around people that don’t make you happy.
If you could talk to yourself a year ago (or to a junior), what advice would you give regarding the college application process and/or senior year?
– START EARLY.
– The grass is much greener on the other side, so keep pushing.
– Do your research fully. Understand why you are applying to a college and why you want or don’t want to go, too. Don’t apply to places you don’t want to go.
– Enjoy everything you can. Time passes you by faster than it ever will.
– Focus on what qualities you want your college to have.
– Take a chill pill, you’ll end up somewhere some way or another.
Most helpful advice you received about the college application process and/or senior year?
– Your personal statement is a story about you, not your life story.
– Be honest in your essays, it really is about who you are as a person and if you write about something genuinely valuable to you, it comes through.
– Work on your essay more in the beginning of school so you have the option to do early admission later.
– Ask for recommendation letters early.
– Start researching colleges early! Filling out applications is a pain, but the most important part of applying to college that no one talks about is FINDING THE RIGHT SCHOOLS TO APPLY TO! Set yourself a goal to research two schools a week during the summer of your junior year to help you develop a list.