Overcoming College Application Stress

by Annie Hendrick

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The Common App: your worst nightmare...or your best friend?

With the dreaded November 1st behind us, a good portion of the senior class has sighed with relief. November 1st is the Early Action application deadline for most of the colleges my fellow seniors are applying to. But the pressure isn’t completely off, yet – some people are still worrying about their regular decision applications, hearing back from their early-action schools, and applying for scholarships. As someone who is currently experiencing all the fun this college process has to offer, I can offer some student-to-student advice on how to get a jumpstart on the college process as underclassmen.

1. Get Started Early

Don’t wait for the beginning of your senior year to start looking at colleges and deciding where to apply – the best time to start searching for colleges is in your junior year when you feel less pressure. You want to enjoy your senior year, not stress out. You’ve worked to live it up a little this year, so take your junior year to get prepared. Try to compile a list of potential colleges by the summer going into your senior year. Colleges usually have their applications for the fall online by the middle to end of that summer. So starting your applications in the summer is a great way to reduce the amount of stress you will face at the beginning of school. If you have the bulk of the application process done by the time the first weeks of school begin, you won’t have to worry about it while also balancing schoolwork and extracurricular activities. The summer is the best time to begin the college process.

2. Find Out What Application Your Schools Accept

The Common Application is wonderful. It allows you to reduce the amount of work you have to do when applying.  Instead of completing many different applications, there is one main application, followed by short supplements to the schools to which you are applying. However, not all schools accept the Common Application. Make sure to research what type of application your schools accept. Set up a common application account; you will need it eventually.  However, if one of your top priority schools do not accept the common app, it is good to spend more time on their application and essays before the other common application schools. Check out the common app at:  www.commonapp.org.

3. Don’t Forget the Paperwork

Most of your applications will be done electronically, but there is still hard copy paperwork you will have to fill out. Along with your résumé and extracurricular sheet for your guidance counselor, you will need a letter of recommendation from two of your teachers, most often from your junior year. Think about this ahead of time – you don’t want to be stuck at the end of your junior year on bad terms with all of your teachers (in other words, be nice enough to two of them to ask them to write your letters!). And when the time comes, make sure to get your transcripts filled out and ready way before your application deadlines.

4. If College is a Priority, Schedule Time For It!

Sitting down to look at everything you need to complete during your college process can be overwhelming. You will want to put it off and procrastinate because lets be honest – it’s not a lot of fun. But if you sit down and schedule blocks of time to focus on getting things done, you will be happy once you accomplish your goals. Just sit down and focus on one thing at a time and stay organized. The sooner you get it done, the better you will feel.

and now...we wait.

That feeling after sending in your first application is worth all of your time and effort. Trust me – you will feel so relieved once you have some or all of your applications out of the way. Getting it done earlier will reduce other stress that school brings, such as quarterlies and balancing difficult classes. However, once you are finished with your college application process, you will have to face the next big thing – the waiting process.

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Images:

Common App:  http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/09.14/photos/99-admissions.jpg

Admissions: http://www.collegeadmissionsplanner.com/images/undergrad-admissions.jpg

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