Calling all seniors! College application season is in full swing; you may have already submitted your first early application—in which case, congratulations! But considering you’re a devoted consumer of CollegeXpress content, you know that one application won’t suffice. There’s still a lot more work to do to ensure that you’re presenting yourself as best as you can in your college applications, which can be super nerve-wracking. Whether you’re seeking guidance or reassuring words, this list will help make your life easier and less stressful during college admission season.
Not enough time to tour colleges
At this stage in the college admission process, it would be ideal to have a concise list of schools that exceed your preferences and fit the labels of safety, target, and reach. But given the treacherous senioritis, you may not be operating at your optimum—and that’s okay.
For schools you haven’t been able to visit yet, take advantage of our “post-pandemic” world and book a virtual campus tour if your schedule is too packed to make a day out of it. The entire purpose of this is to ensure that you and only you feel best suited for the school. Try to imagine yourself doing all sorts of activities on campus, and be sure to follow the school on social media and chat with current students and those who lead the tours.
My best personal tip would be to snag a copy of the school’s newspaper or magazine if you visit campus, or check out the online version. These publications provide insight into the school and surrounding community that may otherwise be glossed over during the tour and open speaker sessions. Squashing those initial nerves all begins with prior research on the school to see which school best suits your needs and interests.
Too many tasks to keep track of
Grab your planner and start the process off right. Begin by blocking off days or time slots to dedicate your full attention to admission essays and supplemental materials. Allot time to revise your work and possibly schedule a meeting to have a trusted English teacher or school counselor help you with the editing process. Similarly, if you’re waiting for letters of recommendation or records that aren’t in your control, always get those in your possession at the earliest time possible. And always be prepared for the worst; your draft is magically deleted, or your recommender is suddenly taking a two-month cruise and will be totally offline. Even schedule some leeway time to relax or nap…I’m talking to you, procrastinators of the world! I wish there was a fix-all solution to procrastination, but unfortunately, there is not—just learned discipline.
Competition and comparison
Through this time of heightened emotions and the anticipation of something new, comparison and competition can start to come to the forefront of students' minds. Though many claim competition is a necessary evil, it shouldn’t be. It adds unnecessary drama and stress to any situation, and it’s not just reserved for application season. A great reminder is that we will all get to where we need to be with time and perseverance. Focus on yourself and be proud of your own feats; don’t let another’s success be the reason you slip up on your goals. If you find yourself falling into this headspace, just stand back for a moment and reevaluate.
“What if I don't get in?”
The college process should be a time of fun and personal exploration. You’re entering a new chapter of your life and every step of the process should be cherished and savored—even the bad parts. A rejection letter shouldn’t deter you from achieving what you want in life; remember, “rejection is redirection.” It may even be a blessing in disguise; you could have dodged a bullet from living in a rank dorm or having to see your entire high school graduating class at the same school.
All jokes aside, you are justified in your feelings and have a right to feel disappointed or mad if you don’t get an acceptance letter. But don’t steep in those feelings for long; after all, you still have loads of other colleges to hear from, and not all of them will decline your admittance. This school will not make or break your experience, and it won’t necessarily set you up for the “best” or “worst” college experience. It’s all based on how you take accountability for your education and make use of the opportunities available to you.
Things are about to change
Take a deep breath and acknowledge that you are still a senior in high school—so enjoy it! Yes, this is a tumultuous time in your life, but take some time for yourself and do what you enjoy doing. Don’t let the little things bog you down when you’re in the home stretch. Finish with strong grades, maintain your relationships with your friends and teachers, and, most importantly, be kind to your family as you make your transition to adulthood; they are going to miss you when you’re in college, and you will miss them too.
You are going on to bigger and better things, and you should feel proud of your achievements. After all, it’s a big milestone to graduate from high school and even bigger to attend college. It’s normal to feel stressed during this process, but remember to take time to take care of yourself and build good habits that will benefit you in the long run. Play to your strengths and accentuate them in your applications. Be authentic and continue to persevere!
We have tips to help you every step of the last year of high school! Check out Our Best Advice for Senior Year of High School.