Senior year is supposed to be one of the best times of our lives. It is supposed to be filled with joy and adventure, but it is also one of the most stressful times as well. We are closing the book on our childhood, and that alone is enough to cause a mild existential crisis, or at the very least, some anxiety.
Then you throw applying to college into the mix. Shouldn’t be that difficult, right? At first it doesn’t seem that hard. That is, until you start thinking about acceptance rates, essay questions, the FAFSA, the people you are competing against for admission, deadlines, and the list goes on. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done, that you can forget senior year is supposed to be fun. Save yourself some stress and follow these simple tips to get through your application sans meltdown.
Focus on what you have accomplished, rather than what you haven’t - It is so easy to start comparing yourself to others and what they have achieved. So maybe you didn’t get a 1500 on your SATs like other people, but you’ve also probably done something they haven’t. In the end, it all equals out.
Don’t try to finish your applications in one day - Even with the Common Application, many schools still require you to write a few short essays specific to that college. That being said, you could be applying to five schools, but need to write fourteen essays. Write them one or two at a time. If you try to write them all at once, you will most likely stress yourself out. Also, you’ll probably burn out too, and then your essays won’t be your best.
Step away if you begin to feel overwhelmed - You aren’t the only one who is feeling that way. It’s okay to stop and take a break for a day or two. If you are stressed, your work is probably suffering just as much as your health is. You want your work to showcase the best of you, so take some time to relax and get back to your best.
Most importantly, be yourself - It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying what you think admissions officers want to hear. Yes, you want to get accepted, but you also want to get accepted for who you truly are, not some fluffed up version of yourself. The best way to do this is to talk about your achievements and qualifications in your own voice. If you don’t use big words or lots of adjectives when talking to your friends or teachers, then don’t do that in your application. If you are normally flowery in your speech, don’t suddenly become bland and succinct in your essays. Be yourself.
Right now, the college application process may feel like a boulder on your shoulders, but eventually it will end. Just keep going. Soon, January 1st will be upon us and you will be finished, free to enjoy more of senior year and impatiently wait for your admission decisions to come back. Ignore that paranoid voice inside your head whispering that you won’t get into any college and will spend the rest of your life living in your parents’ basement. You will get into college: maybe not your dream school, but you will get into college. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have five more essays to write.