Originally Posted: Sep 16, 2019
Last Updated: Aug 5, 2020
Applying to colleges can be stressful. This decision is one of the biggest you’ll have to make in your life so far. College-bound seniors might be feeling overwhelmed and overworked as admission deadlines loom closer, and the stress will build as you struggle to finish everything on time. The application process isn’t easy, so you should create a plan of action on how to cope with the added pressure. Parents can also serve as a supportive shoulder to lean on during this busy time. Here are five surefire ways for students to manage college application stress effectively.
1. Start early
If the thought of applying to college causes you anxiety, you might be overwhelmed with all the options. Start early by visiting admission websites, talking to college students or representatives, and attending information sessions to figure out where you might want to attend college. The Common Application prompts are released before summer even starts, so you could get started on your personal statement as soon as possible. If you finish that essay by the time school starts, you can alleviate some of the stress of balancing classes with the application process.
Another thing you can get off your plate early are your letters of recommendation. Think of teachers, mentors, or coaches you’ve formed a close relationship with over the years. Give them your résumé and ask them to write you a letter of recommendation early in the process to ensure they have time to write a thoughtful recommendation letter.
2. Stay organized
Regardless of how many schools you choose to apply to, there can still be a lot of information and conflicting dates to remember. Instead of trying to keep track of it mentally, write it down and organize it. List out all deadlines, the cost of attendance, whether you need test scores, how many recommendation letters schools require, and if they require any supplemental essays. As you complete the items on the checklist, cross them off. That way you’re never left wondering if you forgot to answer a supplemental essay question or how many letters of recommendations you need to submit.
3. Ask for help
You aren’t expected to do this all on your own. Ask a trusted adult like a parent, teacher, or school counselor for help with an essay, your college list, or any other part of the application. You could even consider hiring an independent counselor to be your guide and assist you with more specific issues. Oh, and always ask questions.
4. Reuse what you can
Luckily, the Common App makes it easier for students to apply to multiple schools a little quicker. You won’t have to fill out your basic information numerous times, and you can send your personal statement to all the universities that accept the Common App. Some schools will still require supplemental essays. As you apply to more schools, you might realize you have to write about a similar topic for multiple schools. Reuse the content when you can, but make sure that each essay is still tailored to the particular school and fully answers the specific prompt.
5. Keep a positive attitude
You’ll get in somewhere! If you’ve planned ahead, written genuine essays that reflect your personality, and applied to a balanced list of schools, you’ll likely get into a college that’s the perfect fit for you. College application season can be stressful, but by taking these steps, you can manage the workload and find your place at the college of your dreams.
We hope these tips help ease your worries and get your college search started! Need to get a head start on making your college list? Find the school that’s right for you on CollegeXpress!