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Managing the College Application Season

By Mary Grlic

Image via Fastweb

If you are a rising senior, August 1, 2021, may have been a pretty scary day for you: the Common App finally opened and college applications finally started. The college application process can be extremely stressful. Not only is school just starting for most students, but we also have to meet deadlines, write numerous essays, finish up exams, find scholarships, and perfect our applications before sending them off to colleges.

As I am looking into colleges myself, I understand that this process can be overwhelming, especially as busy students try to manage our everyday activities. Many teenagers feel immense pressure to decide what they want to do with their lives, and at such a young age, this can be a challenging decision to make. A YouthTruth survey found that only 45% of teenagers feel prepared for college and their future. So, if you are absolutely clueless about the next chapter in your life, you are definitely not alone.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to make college applications easier, less stressful, and more exciting. Here are a few tips to manage anxiety during the college application process.

1. Start early

Deadlines approach quickly, especially when school starts up and we barely have any time during the week. Try to complete a good portion of your college application during the summer or other breaks throughout the school year. Even if you start by creating an account for the Common App and filling out the personal information, that is one less thing you will have to do later! Do not wait until the last minute!

2. Reach out to guidance counsellors, teachers, and other mentors

Your counsellors and teachers have probably seen this process a million times, so they understand how stressful it can be. They are all there to help you!

3. Stay organized

It can be hard to remember which school has what deadline or tuition cost, so be sure to stay organized as you apply to different colleges. I find that making a spreadsheet with all of the colleges I am interested in is the easiest way to stay organized. I include facts like the school’s size, location, distance from home, and tuition to help me better understand what I am looking for.

4. Find your strengths and preferences

When looking into colleges or areas of study, remember that it is your decision! Use your strengths to choose what field you might like to study. Personally, I love math and find that it is a subject I am good at, so I have looked into colleges with good math programs to help decide which schools I want to apply to. Also, look for colleges that fit your needs, whether that be location, size, activities, etc.

5. There is more to life than college

Try not to make every discussion or thought about college. Senior year might be stressful, but it also should be the most exciting year of high school. You can still enjoy sports games and dances without worrying about college applications 24/7.

6. Stay connected to family and friends

Your family and friends are there to help you along the way. Although the process can be time-consuming, remember to make time for your loved ones. They can help talk you through college applications, or even help take your mind off of the stress.

7. Take care of yourself

Prioritize your mental health. When you feel stressed, listen to music, meditate, do some yoga, exercise, take a walk or simply relax. Don’t let the stress get to you. Take time to do the things that you enjoy, and make sure you do not overwhelm yourself during the process.

College is meant to be an exciting time to learn, meet new people, and start a new chapter of your life! Though the process of picking a school may be stressful, remember that you are not alone. Stay positive and excited throughout the process, and most importantly, remember to enjoy your senior year!

Written by Writer Mary Grlic

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