Dun. Dun. Dun. College Application Season. Certainly lacking the tinsel and the cinnamon associated with the more exciting holidays on the calendar, the college application process seems like it was two months ago- not two YEARS ago. Woah. It is one of the most daunting periods of your high school career. Or so you think. There’s no getting around the pressure you feel during fall of your senior year, but there are simple ways to alleviate the stress of the process.
1. Be organized- try to finish up your applications a couple of weeks early so that you can proofread and perfect them. If you are applying ED somewhere, try to begin your essays (or at least brainstorming for them) during the summer when you are relaxing. It might make it easier to handle your schoolwork AND applications. I remember finishing my application one week before it was due, and was incredibly nervous about submitting it early. I made sure I had everything I needed 1243039412243 times! But once it was over, and I knew I had done everything I could to make sure it was the best I could do, the stress actually went away!
2. Make Lists- I make lists for EVERYTHING. I have Post-Its everywhere with my to-do lists. When you first decide on applying to a college, write down exactly what they require so you don’t miss anything. Familiarize yourself with Common Application or whatever other online Application system the college uses. I had list ranking the schools I wanted to go to, a list ranking their programs, a list of their majors, a list of their tuition and clubs and….well you get the idea.
3. Take Advantage of Opportunities- if you really like a school, but aren’t sure whether it is your top choice, explore your options. Does the school have a non-binding Early Action process? Apply there so you can say that you got into a school of your choice earlier than regular decision! Having one school under your belt will definitely reduce the stress. I am so happy that I fell in love with Hopkins when I did (when I went for a visit during the Spring)- I applied ED and was set for the next four years of my life by December 15th! Additionally, see what sort of scholarship or research opportunities you can apply to if you are interested! Many times, the application is really easy! Lastly, take advantage of your high school teachers- many of my teachers helped me with my essay and really helped me mold it into a great essay! I had a bunch of drafts that were very stream of consciousness that my teachers helped me clean up and improve. The essay I used was initially me just writing random observations while I was on vacation. I ended up loving my essay- which really is the most important thing!
4. Visit the schools- once you decide which schools you want to apply to, check them out- the campus can be one of the MOST important features of a school. You are obviously applying to a school because you like their academic programs, but try to explore campuses, talk to people, and get a feel for how your life would be if you went to that school. Visiting Hopkins sealed the deal for me. I was absolutely determined to go there after I set foot on campus- it completely changed my choice for Early Decision school. Two years later- I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.
5. HAVE FUN- I mean, I’m going to be honest. There isn’t really a way to make these things fun, but don’t let it get you down. It’s really just the beginning! The most important thing in college applications is to make sure that you present yourself in the best light. You can’t do that if you are really stressed out. It just makes sense to calm down. Consider yoga. Or meditation. Incense even. I’m serious.
I haven’t really talked about deciding WHICH schools to apply to yet for a reason. I found this to be one of the hardest decisions I made. Since the 10th grade, I had my heart set of a school that was near where I lived, had a great reputation, my major, a great campus- everything. Midway through the summer, I completely changed my list of schools and decided that Hopkins was my number 1. Why? I still have no idea. Visiting Hopkins was one of the things that really helped me realize how much I liked a school, but comparing my original number one with Hopkins was really difficult. I think you just have to go with your gut. I think that’s the only advice I can give when deciding which schools to apply to (or ranking them if you plan on applying ED anywhere). Because ED is binding, it really is a difficult decision, to make. There are so many things to consider!
I do have to say, after I got into Hopkins ED, it was smooth sailing. I cannot believe how amazing it felt to not have to worry about another college application.
I think that’s all the advice I can give you for the college application process- I really think these tips would have made my journey in the college application process much smoother! Good Luck!
You probably deserve an explanation for the pictures. I have become quite the spy. I am not really sure why. If you are confused, when I say spy, I actually mean that I have become a pro-creepy-photo-taker. You know, when you take pictures of people without them knowing because you don’t know them and if they saw you taking a picture of them it would be really awkward because you are in the library or Gilman or some other public place? Yeah. I have started to notice a bunch of people falling asleep in public- which I find weird. So clearly, my first impulse was to take a picture. Here you go. I hope you enjoy looking at these as much I enjoyed taking them. Hopefully none of the people in the photos read my blogs. Cuz that would be awkward.
P.S- In case you were wondering about the title…I thought that Lil Wayne quote would be inspiring for all you people getting ready to apply for college! As long as you show that you are in fact fresher than a Degree stick, admissions will accept you. That’s a fact- they want to see you in your best form. And smelling fresh is a plus too.