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The Battle: College Applications vs. Academics

When it comes down to it, college applications and academics don’t have to battle. They can coexist and inspire one another.

Paige Sheffield

September 25, 2013

The Battle: College Applications vs. Academics
You spent all of high school planning and preparing for this moment. You researched colleges based on location, size, student body, and tons of other things, crafting a polished list of theschools you wanted to go to. You took all of the classes you thought would help you with your biology degree. You planned the kinds of courses you would take in college and the kinds of jobs those courses would lead to. And for what, exactly? To feel completely dazed, lost and rushed when it comes to applying to college.

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So much for getting ahead, right? Because now you realize that liberal arts schools aren't your thing and you don’t actually like biology that much. You have doubts. You have deadlines. You have the pressure of all of it. But you don’t have time.

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Between AP homework, sports practice, extracurriculars and your faded social life, you feel ready to collapse to the ground, becoming better friends with your snooze button each and every day. Suddenly, people start throwing around phrases like “common app” and “letters of recommendation” and you feel a little bit panicked because it’s decision time and you don’t know what you’re doing, not to mention, you don’t have the time for any of it. Balancing academics and college applications can be a challenge, but there are ways to minimize stress while also getting your applications in (by the early deadline, even)!

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1. Turn Off Your Phone You have no time, right? In fact, you have such limited amounts of time that you tweeted about it last night. Three times, actually. While social media keeps you up to date with current events, it’s important to limit your usage. Designate a time to check social media, but during those homework breaks where you normally end up spending a little too much time online, log into the Common App website and at least read through what you’ve already written to check for mistakes. If this sounds completely unbearable after your physics homework, check out some scholarships you would actually enjoy applying for. A video about your passion for social media? Yes, please. Basically, there are ways to make your passions useful.
2. Know That You’re Not Common You don’t have to set a strict, routine schedule. That may work for some people, but it might not work for you. Maybe having a strictly defined schedule keeps you on task. Maybe it makes you rattle off excuses at an exponential rate. Your application process is going to be different from other people and you should not judge your progress based on what you think other people are doing. Maybe your best friend finished her essay months ago. That’s great for her. But that doesn’t make you a failure, incapable of writing an outstanding essay. Don’t let the idea of “common” or “normal” get you down. 3. Own That Schedule It’s yours. Yeah, your teachers assign projects and your club advisors schedule meetings. But ultimately, you are the master of working around all of that. Worried about making time to talk to your counselor? Sign up on a day you know you don’t have a history test. Making plans for Friday night? Try to reserve some time for college applications on Saturday. It’s all about taking control of the time you have and not letting it easily slip away from you. 4. Take a Deep Breath The truth is your essay won’t be as spectacular as you are if you constantly worry. Think about what makes you passionate and why you are applying where you are applying. What are you doing all of this for? What goal is the root of your stress? What means the most to you? Your application reflects who you are. Don’t nervously crank it out like that in-class essay you wrote yesterday. Remember who you are and let it be evident on the pages of your application. 5. Live Truly, this is where you’ll get the inspiration and the motivation to complete your applications. School is important but so is having the energy and compassion to write your admissions essay. Classes may make you feel fried, uninspired, exhausted and blank. But it’s important to fill those gaps and blank spaces with the life that you breathe, in and out-the things that you really believe in. The places you always dream of. The places you go to again and again. Strive for balance. Talk to people. Go to art shows. Explore your hometown. Be inspired. Find something that you truly love and care about in your seemingly boring history class. Surround yourself with at least some things that you love. Because in the midst of those blank spaces, you just might find a story. Your story. The heart and soul of your living, breathing application. It won’t come to life the way you want it to if you’re constantly pulling all nighters and gulping down coffee. Study. Be social. Explore. But know that none of these things is everything, and none of them explains all that you are. At the time of applications, you need all of them. You need all of the things that stress you out and make you happy and make you feel lost and make you feel scared. So, really, when it comes down to it, college applications and academics don’t have to battle. They can coexist and inspire one another.

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