October 13, 2017
October is supposed to be the month of pumpkin spice lattés, warm sweaters, and fires on the beach with friends, but for high school seniors it is something much different. The constant whispers of “What college are you going to?” and “Have you gotten accepted?” loom over their heads, like a devil on your shoulder. If just passing your classes isn’t hard enough already, adding college applications into the mix makes for an awful mix of constant stress and anxiety. And to make matters worse, the application process is a rather lengthy one that requires multiple phases to complete.
The process begins with your college essays. Whether it be the common application or the university specific format, one must complete multiple essays of sometimes six hundred words or more, based on previously established prompts. The typical essay prompt is articulated in a manner, to get oneself to essentially brag about themselves and their accomplishments. Which is rather difficult to do especially if you are the A typical student, that does what they are supposed to, nothing more and nothing less. Colleges claim they require essays to obtain a better understanding of the student as a person, and to a put a voice to the application, which will separate you from the other candidates. However, what it really trickles down to, is a self-boasting session, where you write why you are a better person than every other applicant. They are looking for the socialite over-achiever, of which they perceive to be a worthy candidate. Most students, sadly, have nothing to brag about, which makes the essay portion a rather taxing agenda. Along similar lines, most universities, especially private ones, require letters of recommendation, which one must obtain from two teachers and two guidance counselors. Letters of recommendation are very similar to the essays, as they are essentially letters where your teacher or mentor gloat about how good of a student and person you are. Obtaining these can also be rather difficult, especially if you are not a student that leaves a mark on the teacher. With an average room full of over 35 students, it’s difficult for a teacher to remember a student, especially their personal self, and write about them.
Once the boasting session is over, the process has only just begun. After your letters are finished and your essays are written, it’s time to pick a college. Picking a college that’s right for you is very stressful, with thousands of universities and colleges to pick from it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just a few. So many colleges offer so many different opportunities, one must figure out what fits their personality and aspirations the best. Next, after you have narrowed your choices down it’s time to finally start applying. The applications aren’t very in depth however, they are rather tedious, prompting you with basic questions such as your GPA, SAT score, and various other fundamentals. It may not seem to taxing, however when there are multiple schools you are applying to, the applications stack up. Lastly, once the applications are all filled out, and all the information is gathered, it is time to submit. After submission, just when you think all the stress is over, the real stress begins- waiting for a response.
You may find yourself biting your nails, and counting down the days, until you get that paper in the mail with the final verdict. I wouldn’t blame you, the anxiety is real and the wait only makes it worse. However, if you would like to take away from some of the stress of the entire process, here are some basic tips for easing the application process. Do not wait until the last minute to start applying. Begin early, even if it is just picking your colleges. You will find it very helpful when the deadline approaches. Also, try to stick out in class and leave a mark on your teacher. It’s very easy to write about how good of a student you were, if you actually were a good student. Along the same lines, try to become an active student in your community, it makes it much easier to talk about your accomplishments when there is a list to choose from. Lastly, and most importantly, relax. Don’t let the stress ruin you. It’s very difficult, but everyone has to do it, and everyone is going through the same pain. You may not get into the college of your dreams, and it will all seem like a huge waste, but it is not the end of the world, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.