Stuck In the Middle: Seniors Face the Final Stretch

This is the second of three installments. The first article, written two months ago, revolved around the stresses of college applications. The third installment, in two months, will be just before graduation.

In March of their final year, seniors at HHS are left with only three months in school. Most early application decisions have been received, and regular application decisions are just coming in. The finality of their time is beginning to set in, and they’re all getting ready to move on to the next chapter.

Checking back into the lives of Helen Aghababian, Ralston Augspurg, Jason Liu, and Andrea Wei reveals some of the stresses of college decisions.

Photo: Helen Aghababian knows her high school days are numbered, and takes advantage of what time she has left with her friends as best she can.
Helen Aghababian knows her high school days are numbered, and takes advantage of what time she has left with her friends as best she can.

“Making sure I have everything put in place, in terms of deposits… making myself mentally prepared to move away from my family and everything, and focussing on being with friends,” Aghababian said.

“It’s overwhelming.”

The newest stressor for her is checking all of the boxes that come after the college decision. Since the last installment, shehas gotten into Lesley University, her first choice, for History. But that does not mean that this process is over, it’s actually far from it.

“I’m not very enthusiastic about moving. I really like my friends and I really like the life I have here,” Aghababian said. “I’ve grown so accustomed to my life in Hopkinton.”

As she has previously mentioned, she doesn’t feel ready to leave this place yet. This is where her roots are, where her life is, and it’s not easy to walk away from all of that.

On top of that, the worries of sustaining the strong relationships she’s built with her friends in high school become more prevalent as the days until graduation dwindle. Though their relationships are strong, physical separation and hectic college schedules make it difficult to preserve the bonds in the same way.

“I’m not sure how strong my relationship is going to be with [my friends] after I go to college. We all say that we’re going to keep in touch, but is that going to happen? I don’t know,” Aghababian said.

But she knows that being conscious of this can actually be the solution. Knowing that her time is limited has helped put into perspective the value of the time that she has with those she loves, and gives new meaning to the days when they get to see one another.

“[My goal is] cherishing the moments I have right now… because when you’re older you may not connect with the people that you’re connected with now in the same way,” Aghababian said.

She feels melancholy. Not knowing what the future holds or how her decisions now will affect her is something that makes her most nervous about this process. In the end, she just wants to be okay with it all.

“I hope I’m not as sad as I am right now… I just want to see myself being happy with the decisions I’ve made,” Aghababian said.

Ralston Augspurg, on the other hand, feels more than ready to leave on this next adventure.

“I’ve been [in Hopkinton] for as long as I remember. Everything that actually mattered happened here. But I’ve been to Boston so many times,” Augspurg said. “So I think it would be cool to go [farther].”

Photo: Ralston Augspurg is excited to finally leave the nest and become independent in a new place.
Ralston Augspurg is excited to finally leave the nest and become independent in a new place.

Augspurg has preserved his fascination with moving away from home. Though he has received a great offer from Northeastern University, one of his top schools, he feels slight discomfort at its proximity to home.

“I would say my ideal is 4 hours away… I think it would be cool to go to Philadelphia for school… distance is important, but I don’t want to go too far,” Augspurg said.

He knows, though, that his college choice is not just about whether or not he wants to be far from home. Sometimes, you just have to make the smart decision.

“Money. It’s all about money,” Augspurg said. “I have to think about where I want to go and how much debt I’m going to graduate with, and I think that’s actually worse.”

Initially, Augspurg was simply anxious about where he would get in and where he would not. But now having heard from most of his schools, he realizes that anacceptance letter is just the beginning of the process and that nothing is final until it’s final.

While college decisions continue to come in and FAFSA is being sent out, it is easy to forget that you’re still in high school, and are still obligated to fulfill the responsibilities of all of your classes. Augspurg knows a thing or two about this difficulty.

“Senior slide is a thing. It’s definitely a thing,” Augspurg said.

Jason Liu attested to this, admitting that he’s another victim of this affliction.

“I’m definitely feeling a senior slide. But I’m trying to stay in there,” Liu said.

But he justifies it with good reason. He has put in a lot of work into school and applications thus far and now wants to spend this semester focusing on his passions, something that he hasn’t been able to do with the hustle and bustle of this year.

Photo: Jason Liu hopes to focus on his passions and learn more about himself in his last semester.
Jason Liu hopes to focus on his passions and learn more about himself in his last semester.

“Since the beginning of second semester, my classes have started to pick up steam,” Liu said. “Deep inside I know that… I shouldn’t give up at all [and] I should still try to work as hard as I can up until graduation.”

Despite feeling the slide, Liu is still committed to his academics. It’s something that he’s pushed himself on his entire high school career and knows that he doesn’t want to stop now.

“Since my last interview I’ve developed a clearer idea of what I want to do,” Liu said. “I’ve been looking more into fields that interest me… Now I’m starting to shift and I think I want to major in political science.”

One of his biggest regrets from first semester was not taking enough time to think about his interests. For the past four years, avocations like reading, art, and philosophy have fallen by the wayside to make room for the work he was putting into his studies. In trying to expand his academic knowledge, he was hindered from expanding the depth of his passions. But he understands that in college, he will have plenty of time to do this.

“You can’t go back in time to relive anything… But right now it’s time to start looking ahead and start preparing for college… I’m looking forward to this next chapter,” Liu said.

Andrea Wei also had some regrets, realizing now the truly limited time she has with not only her friends but everyone she comes into contact with at HHS. She spent so much time during freshman and sophomore year focusing so heavily on her academics, she regrets not branching out as much.

In the last interview, Wei’s main stress surrounded her unofficial committal to Brown University. It wasn’t a sure thing yet, she still had to wait to send her first semester grades and see if they were good enough to get her in. In the interim, she was accepted, lifting the weight of worry off of her shoulders. She looks back to those worries, realizing that they sometimes were a bit nonsensical, and just wants to tell herself it will all end up okay.

“Stop thinking about all of the possibilities,” Wei would advise herself of two months ago. “I stressed out about what if I get accepted and they forget to send me my letter, don’t stress about that.”

With the extra time she’s gained after committing, she’s putting it towards making new memories she can hold onto when she moves off to college.

Photo: Andrea Wei is devoting what time she has left to building new relationships and strengthening the ones she already has.
Andrea Wei is devoting what time she has left to building new relationships and strengthening the ones she already has.


“I’m definitely having the time of my life. I’ve definitely been going out with my friends a lot more. It’s so nice seeing a side of my friends I don’t get to see during school or during swim, it’s awesome,” Wei said.

Because she knows it doesn’t matter what she’s doing with friends, just that they are together.

“We’ll just find something to do… waste time. Sit in the car, listen to music, drive anywhere,” Wei said.

She’s also now realizing the worth of HHS. More specifically, it’s staff. In past years, she was so focused on the classwork that she didn’t see the value in those that were giving the work to her.

“As an underclassman, you don’t realize your teachers are people too and they have personalities too. It’s been really cool just bonding with people that I haven’t thought about bonding with. A lot of my teachers are really funny and I just never knew about it,” Wei said.

All in all, it is a melancholy time for her. Just like everyone else, she just wants to be okay, and be able to graduate proud of the mark that she’s left on HHS. She wants to be able to make her freshman-self proud, hoping that she’s accomplished everything that she wanted to four years ago.

And looking forward to the next interview and where she wants to see herself before graduation, she had something we can all relate to.”

“I’m just hoping I will [be] in shorts and a tee shirt,” Wei said. “It’s cold!”