Getting Ahead of the Game: Ways to Alleviate College Stress

The 1st half of senior year can be the most complicated time any Millennium student may face while here. Everybody has a different motive in what they want for their college life, and pressures from all corners could drive this motive, including; peer pressure, dream schools/majors, relationships, financial aid, or even essays and supplements. Are you struggling with any of these problems? Looking for solutions? Look no further! I’m about to give you some important tips on how to reduce this college stress! But first, here’s how I got into one of my dream schools. 

I was aiming to go to school in New Jersey since I have a house in Hopatcong, in Sussex County, north of Jersey. I looked at schools near that area that specialize in the major I intended to take, pharmacy. I then found a school called Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. I looked into the school and liked its chemistry program since I wanted to major in some field that had to do with healthcare. I also found the Leadership Development through Civic Engagement undergraduate program very interesting because I’ve always been into leadership roles, as I find myself always passionate about working with others and learning about leadership experience throughout the community. I then applied for early action and in-state tuition since I planned to live in Hopatcong after my high school years. In only three days, I got a letter saying I got accepted in addition to a full 4-year annual Presidential Scholarship for $18,000!

#1: Learn about yourself  

Before telling a college why you are dedicated to going there, you must give colleges insight into who you are as a person. This is more of a process than many think it is. Find out about what you truly love and hate as a person. Go over hobbies, interests, talents, and subjects in school you are most interested in. The more information you can talk about yourself, the easier the college process will be. I recommend you write a list about yourself with everything about you on it. If you think hard enough, you will likely find many more facts to talk about yourself. 

#2: Use Spreadsheets to stay organized

Once you get all your personal information about yourself settled out, you can start researching what colleges you like the most and why. Spreadsheets are the easiest way to do this. You’ll be at ease by creating an organized sheet with detailed points of colleges you’re looking to apply to, application deadlines, the application process, contact information, and papers required. You won’t be going crazy looking for important information about the schools you applied to. Spreadsheets also help you become more organized as a person and for college. Always remember that organization is key. 

#3: Keep teacher recommendations in mind 

Teacher recommendations are crucial for colleges to find out how you are in the classroom. Make sure to not only find your favorite teachers to get recommendations for, but to find teachers that teach similar subjects to your intended major. This way, the colleges can see how you could be what they’re looking for in their programs.

#4: Do essays over the summer 

During the summer, you should get ahead of the game by doing your college essay instead of waiting until the last minute. Although you will likely be working on it throughout the end of junior year, completing your essay will alleviate lots of stress and help you focus on college research. You may have to write multiple essays depending on the schools you’re applying to. Always stick with the personal essay over the summer and move on to other supplemental essays, even if you’re set on a dream school. You may not get in it, and you’ll feel really upset knowing you prioritized an extra essay you didn’t have to do. Get your personal essay done before anything else when summer comes along. 

#5: Apply to Safeties

Now you may not need this tip, but it’s always best to put down likely schools. If you have a dream school with very high standards for its applicants, like an ivy league school, remember to apply for schools you are confident you will get into. This way, you will most likely attend college in the fall. Sure, it can be disappointing to know you got rejected from your dream school, but having a safe school you know you will get into will definitely reduce the stress. 

#6: Make use of test-optional schools 

This is a significant one. If you’re like me and you’re not the best person when it comes to tests, always keep a lookout for schools that are test-optional. The majority of colleges across the country are test-optional, which can help you stay flexible on the college admissions process without having to worry about standardized test scores. Schools are adding more test-optional choices in their applications, giving more opportunities for students who aren’t that great with test scores a chance to show other positives in their application. When applying for colleges, make sure that the schools you’re looking at are test-optional (if you intend to apply test-optional) so you don’t get nervous about sending test scores in later on. 

#7: Be Honest 

When filling out your application for activities and previous clubs you’ve been a part of, make sure you are honest. Lying to colleges can easily backfire on you later on, and it’s not worth the risk. Being honest and showing good character is a key way for colleges to see what kind of a person you are from the beginning. Lying can also lead to colleges discarding your application and your plan going out the window. Just never lie in your application. Honesty is key. 

#8: Turn on Emails

This is more of a personal note. Make sure you regularly check your emails in case you get accepted to any schools, have important meetings to attend, financial aid forms, or anything else you need from the school in the application process. You have to get organized with emails as it will help you tremendously in preparing for whatever information is sent by the college or college board. Don’t be sloppy or all over the place with the emails, as you will likely miss out on something very important from the colleges you applied for. 

#9: Ask an Adult to proofread your application 

You always want to ensure you’re not leaving anything out of your application. Let a parent read over your application and make sure everything you have is right and accurate for the questions, especially since sometimes you will need them to fill out some questions. Always make sure you answer everything on the application before submitting it because one little unanswered question could snowball your whole application. 

#10: Take a deep breath and relax  

After everything is said and done with your application, take time to do something for yourself. Going outdoors, getting more sleep, doing a certain hobby, or even writing down your feelings could help tremendously when trying to forget all the tiring and tedious times the college application took out of you. 

After reading these tips, I hope you take the step in the right direction for the college application process. I wish you all the best of luck in your College Admissions Process!