I recently caught up with one of my former students, Meagan, who is now a freshman at CCSU’s Honors Program. We got to talking about her college search and the ups and downs of it. At one point I asked her what she would have done differently if she had the opportunity to go back and do it all over again knowing what she knows now.
That question led to a few others that I think would be incredibly helpful for this year’s senior class.
The following are some of the questions I asked Meagan with her answers.
Q1: What was the one thing about the college application process that was a lot harder than you thought it would be?
One of the hardest things about the college application process was writing and editing the essay. It’s hard enough trying not to second-guess yourself the whole time, let alone choose a topic to write about that speaks to you. I got really hung up in trying to pick a topic that wasn’t cliché, or hadn’t been done before, when in reality, no matter what topic you choose, some version of it has been done before. It’s just all about how you present it. Editing took a lot longer than I thought as well, since I’m so used to writing one or two drafts and then being done. But when it was over, it was the greatest feeling being able to upload it online and hit send knowing I’d never have to look at it again.
Q2: What was the biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise for me was how quickly deadlines came up. Although I was able to manage my time decently, things got crazy that first half of the year due to sports, school, and life in general. Sometimes it felt like time was never on my side. After every due date had come and I looked at when the next one was, I would think, “I have plenty of time to do that.” And then I’d look at the calendar later on and realize I only had a week to prepare whole supplementary essays.
Q3: If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
If I could do it again I wouldn’t talk to my friends so much about their essays or their applications. When I listened to them tell me what they were doing, I would question myself and wonder if they had better ideas. Then I would go back to essays and psych myself out thinking it was horrible and incomparable to my friends’ essays. I just put way too much stake in what they had to say, when I should have just been focusing on what I needed to say.
Q4: What advice would you give to this year’s crop of seniors?
I would tell this year’s seniors to 1.) Chill out, 2.) Manage your time wisely because it WILL come back to bite you, 3.) Focus on yourself and not what your friends are doing, and 4.) Be realistic.
Time management during the application process saves a lot of stress and unnecessary anxiety. Keeping yourself sane during the process is important if you want to truly give colleges an accurate representation of you.
Although you value your friends’ opinions when you need them most, I strongly feel that this rule does not apply during the college application process. If you’re always asking different people things about essays, or where you should and should not apply, you’re going to get a million different answers and opinions that will leave you more confused and unsure than when you first asked. College application season is exciting because you’re thinking about the future, but what matters most is your voice and where you want to be – not your friends. It also saves you a lot of stress to not get wrapped up in their college stress too.
Being realistic will prove to be invaluable in the future. Take everything into account: cost, location, distance, and your grades. College is expensive, there’s no getting around it. It’s difficult to find a school you love without breaking the bank, but knowing you’ll graduate without $50,000-$100,000 of debt is a great feeling. Location is also important because if you want to be able to visit more than once or twice during the year, you might not want to move to Florida or out to California because flights are expensive and need to be considered. (However, if you’re not planning on visiting often, I highly encourage going to a place with nice weather.) Being realistic about what you did in high school is also important. I have seen many friends be blinded by how much they love a school and completely forget that there is a possibility of rejection. Seeing that heartbreak is not fun for any of the parties involved.
I feel like seniors freak themselves out over the college application process way too much (I know I did). No matter what happens, things will fall into place. I saw my friends crumble over applications to schools they desperately wanted to get into but when it comes down to it, you’re going to end up where you need to be even if it isn’t exactly what you first envisioned.
If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation.