What I Wish I Knew Before Applying to College

College application season is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting and scary parts of senior year. These applications are what lead you to the next chapter of your life, and this pressure can sometimes get to be stressful. In my personal experience, I had a very difficult time finishing my applications. There are so many things that I wish I had known prior to applying to college. Here are some of them: 

Don’t get in your own head.

The summer before my senior year, all anyone could ever talk about was college. Whether I was talking to my friends or even my family, every conversation revolved around the topic of college, applications and scholarships. For me, these situations tended to stress me out so much that I wanted to avoid them at all possible costs. I wish that I had known that college applications aren’t as bad as they seem. I know that it can be overwhelming, but I promise that things aren’t as bad as you make them out to be. Once you start, it will all get easier.

Find someone to talk to.

One of the most difficult aspects of college essays was figuring out what to talk about. What I found to be extremely helpful was to talk to someone about it. Essay topics come so much easier when you have someone to bounce ideas off of. When I talked to my friends about my ideas, they would tell me what they liked and what they thought I should add or take out. Many of your teachers are willing to help you find essay topics or even look over them after you are done. There are so many people around you that are willing to help; don’t be scared to ask them.

Celebrate the little accomplishments.

Applications can be overwhelming at times, and it’s important that you reward yourself. Whenever I was done with an application I would take a break to watch some TV or even eat some ice cream. The application process is many months long, and it’s so important to make sure that you take the time to reward yourself so that you don’t get burnt out. 

Take your time.

Many college application prompts come out during the summer or even the beginning of the school year. The prompts ask you to delve deep within yourself, and it takes time to properly answer them. Colleges provide you with plenty of time to complete the applications, so don’t keep pushing them off. Obviously, this is a given, but it is important to keep this in mind.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

As cliche as it may sound, only you can be you. There is nobody else like you, so don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. This doesn’t only pertain to your essay topics but the progress that you have made on your applications. My first semester of senior year was extremely busy, and I barely had time to work on my college essays. All of my peers were way ahead of me when it came to both college applications and scholarships. It made me feel discouraged and stressed me out way more than I needed to be. It even came to a point where simply talking about college made me feel anxious. In the end, I submitted all of my applications on time, so all the stress that I underwent in that process was not worth it. Just focus on yourself. Do the best you can, and you will be okay.

Do early decision or early action.

One of my biggest regrets this year was not applying as an early decision or early action applicant for any school. If you apply earlier on, you hear back by December, whereas regular decision hears back around March or April. Personally, I believe that waiting is the most difficult part of the college application process. If you know what you want to major in and where you want to go, apply for early decision. It will be worth it.

College applications can be stressful, but you will get through it. In the end, you will end up where you are meant to be, and that is all that matters. I wish you the best of luck during this application season!

Triveni Patel