A guide to relaxing during the college search and application process.
It is often reported that our generation is the most depressed generation. Today, young people are sadder and more stressed than ever before. As such, the college search and application process can be an unnecessarily stressful for many students. Do not misinterpret what I am saying; obviously, the process does and should have some stress.
However, I’ve seen many people emotionally break down under the pressure—whether it be induced from one’s own mind or from an external force—and it makes me want to help them in any way I can. So, that’s my purpose in writing this article. Here are some reasons that you can use to justify calming down during the college search process and enjoy your senior year more than you would if you were stressed out.
Firstly, I think name-brand and prestige can be very overrated. I have seen many fellow students overthinking, over stressing, and practically sweating bullets over how they can make a fool-proof application to guarantee their acceptance to “insert name of prestigious school.”
Listen: where you go for a bachelor’s degree does not matter nearly as much as some people think or say that it does. Someone who goes to a big state school can have just as happy an ending as someone who goes to a small, private liberal arts school, and vice versa. College is more about what you make of it than what your college is made of.
Sure, some schools have larger alumni networks and some schools have larger endowments, but at the end of the day, you can meet smart people and make connections at any school you go to. The school you go to does not define the rest of your life. Besides, most jobs don’t end up asking where you went for your bachelor’s degree; most of the time, the information potential employers will want to know is whether or not you have earned a bachelor’s degree.
Secondly, in today’s market--which is becoming more saturated with bachelor-degree holders--the school you go to for your master’s degree is transforming into a subject of higher interest to employers, rather than the school you went to for your bachelor’s degree. This is the case with a lot of jobs calling for a mentally-skilled labor force.
Thirdly, it’s important to remember this saying that my college counselor loves to tell students: “It’s a process.” There are some things that you just cannot do anything about because applying to college is a process. Meaning it is a waiting game. You have to wait for colleges to receive your transcripts; you have to wait for your standardized test scores to be delivered; you have to wait to receive feedback on your application essays from whomever you ask for feedback; you have to wait for admissions officers to respond to your myriad of emails asking important questions about the process; and, ultimately, you have to wait for an admissions decision. You are not alone in you’re waiting, so try not to sweat it! The decisions will come when admissions offices are ready to send them out.
I would say that these are the three most important things to remind yourself of when you are feeling stressed out over the process. However, there are many more things to keep in mind. The aforementioned reasons have been true for college admissions over the past few decades. (There was probably more waiting due to technology not being as advanced as it is now!) The words that follow are some things to remember for the current era of college admissions.
Yes, thanks to recent technological advancements over the past two decades, admissions processes do work quicker than ever before and are way more convenient for applicants and colleges alike. However, this does not detract from the fact that the college application process is still an enormous waiting game. Go in with low expectations of how fast results will take, and you may be surprised to wake up one day in December or March to find a nice acceptance letter waiting in your applicant portal or email.
Also, thanks to technology, there are many ways to “kill time” during the admissions process aside from the non-technological activities I mentioned in my previous articles. Now, I am not the biggest fan of social media—I do not have any of the social media that most people have nowadays, such as Instagram or Snapchat—I have, however, thoroughly enjoyed spending time on online social media services that are geared towards college applicants—such as ZeeMee and College Confidential. Sites like those are a great way to meet fellow applicants, some of whom are bound to become your friends, classmates, and possibly even roommates in the future.
As I have said multiple times, the college admissions process is exactly that—a process. You should expect to carve out a large chunk of your summer as a rising senior and your first semester as a senior for your college search and applications! And, even though I have continuously harped on how patience is a necessary element in the high school senior’s battle against insanity, please take this advice seriously as well: Your senior year will fly by. It will progress and end much more quickly than any previous school year.
This has been my experience so far—I can’t believe we’re halfway through March! The same experience is true from many people (current and past high school seniors included) I have talked to.
So, try to have fun and enjoy the process, as tedious and slow as it may be at some moments. Don’t overthink it!