My name is Lily Genovese. Yes, I am 17 years old. Yes, I am applying to college this year.

No, I don't know where I am going yet.

It seems like a common trend in today’s standards to automatically ask someone where they are applying the second we hear they are a senior in high school. It’s a fatal flaw.

College application season is upon us, and it is an incredibly stressful period for those of us who aren’t recruited for a sport. As an individual, I am applying to 15 schools. You heard me. 15. Eeek!!

The seemingly haunting Nov. 1st deadline is approaching slowly, but we still have to carry the weight of a rigorous schedule and often participate in after school activities.

I currently work in retail, about 20 hours per week after school or on the weekends. My age serves as an advantage in the store, so I often share my age with customers in order to have them trust my taste- especially for mothers shopping for their high school daughters or friends.

I have noticed, starting in June, almost every single customer I have shared my age with has anticipated a conversation that has become pretty standard.

“Oh, you’re a senior in high school?”

“You must be starting the application process!”

“Do you know where you want to go?”

On the surface, I get it. Humans are naturally a nosey and curious species. I did the same thing- as well as watched my parents go through the exact conversation with each of my older cousins. I was just as curious and would guiltily listen in on the conversations going over what schools they chose to apply early decision, early action, and apply regular decision.

Now that I have reached the age where I have become the subject of the conversational interrogator, I completely understand why my cousins shared that look. The look my face subconsciously profiles each time someone asks me the question.

The thing is, the college process has become much more competitive since my parents were applying. It wasn't as easy as deciding on a few schools, sending the application and crossing your fingers.

Many applicants will even hire someone to help with the essay or supplements.

Personally, I feel obligated to be honest with anyone who asks me the question. I'm not a closed off person so did this for a while- until I (AHHHH) sent in my first application.

Now, the stress is piling tall and piling high. I don't want to share my school with my customers- because in all honesty I don't want to feel embarrassed when they return if I don't get in.

For those of you not going through the process, we can't get mad. We can't expect you to understand the stigma surrounding college applications. It was practically non-existent before- but now it is as terrifying as ever.

If you are reading this, don’t fret. We aren’t mad! We understand. We would have done the same thing- until we felt it on the other side.

Lily Genovese is a senior at Darien High School.