It’s that time of year again--college application season. A time dreaded by most, anticipated by some, and mastered by none. Students, parents, and counselors alike are swimming in an ocean of tips, tricks, and advice offered by millions of different sources, with no land in sight. This alone can generate high levels of stress for all parties involved, but students are the ones who have to endure the most. Luckily, there are plenty of things high school seniors can do to help mitigate stress when applying for college. Yes, staying organized, keeping deadlines in mind and talking to school counselors are all great pieces of advice. However, here are three additional things that really helped keep me afloat while I was going through the application process last fall.It is very important that you try and avoid comparing yourself to your peers during the entire process of applying and hearing back from colleges. Students build up too much stress worrying about how they compare to others in their class or of the university they hope to attend. Some of your peers may be ahead and have all of their applications finished and sent out - that doesn’t mean you must rush to send yours in months before the deadline. Similarly, some of your peers may be hearing back from colleges sooner than others, and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you or your application. You cannot and should not compare yourself, your accomplishments, your experiences, your grades, your standardized test scores, or your financial situation to others. Everyone is moving at their own pace, everyone is applying to very different schools, and everyone is finding themselves in a different situation.Trust that the admissions officers will take each of your unique situations into consideration when making a decision, and that the outcome will be different for everybody.Keeping a journal throughout such an emotionally taxing process is not only therapeutic but also beneficial to your essay writing. It is a way to exercise your writing skills and document personal experiences you could refer to later on in your admissions essay. Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to the essay portion of the application, the more prepared you are, the better. Journaling will help you in almost every area needed to write an excellent and moving essay. It will also help you de-stress, because you could dedicate a few minutes each day to writing about anything, even if it has nothing to do with college or school. You could write about your friends, how your day went, your pet, or even simply about how you are feeling at the moment. As Anne Frank once said, “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
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