Beating the Stress of College Apps


Jessica Gonzalez, Editor-in-Chief

As senior year comes to a close and college acceptance letters roll in, it’s a time when seniors reflect on how quickly this year has flown by and lessons learned along the way. As seniors wonder where the time went, we asked them to share lessons learned throughout this year and what they would have done differently.

 1. Get SATs and ACTs done early

By the time senior year comes by, the last thing you need on your plate is something you could’ve gotten done early. Between scholarships, college applications, and regular school work, you won’t have enough time to study for the SAT on top of that, and the last thing you’ll want to do is give up a precious Saturday that could’ve been spent doing something else. Especially since college applications are due in November through January, you’ll find the SAT dates that you could actually participate in and prepare before become sparse, increasing stress levels with unnecessary time constraints. Save yourself the headache and do the standardized tests your junior year.


2. No college is truly a safety and no college is truly unattainable

Sometimes it feels like admissions officers just throw a dart at a board when choosing who to admit. It’s impossible to know what goes on behind the closed doors of the admissions office or what type of students and quotas they are looking to meet. Keeping that in mind, safety schools aren’t all that safe, and you still have the possibility of being rejected. That being said, your reach school could be closer than it seems. Competitive schools look for diversity and unique applicants, so those quotas that could keep you out of one school might get you into another.


3. You can never apply to too many safety schools

Although safety schools aren’t a sure shot, applying to multiple safety schools increases your odds of being accepted to at least one, if not all of them. It also allows for you to have many options by the end of your senior year so you don’t feel cornered into going to a specific school.


4. Figure out financial aid early 

For some reason, it seems like colleges are not as straight forward with financial aid applications as you think they’d be. There are so many ways to apply for financial aid, FAFSA, IDOC, and CSS Profile just to name a few. Contact the school ahead of time and learn all the deadlines, forms, and applications they need so you don’t cram it all in the night before the deadline.


5. Spend spare time in Rotary Futures

Scholarships are worth your time! Constantly keep track of scholarships that you qualify for and work towards their deadlines. Free money is a godsend, even if it seems like it’s a small quantity. Use the nights when your homework seems lacking to apply for those you find though Rotary. We are so lucky to have them on campus as an easily accessible resource for students. By the time you receive your financial aid packages from your colleges, you’ll be glad you have money from scholarships. 

6. Keep copies of your college essays

This is a nice loophole to use when applying for other colleges or scholarships. You can use sentences from your old essays to create new essays for other applications. It’s a great way to save time, just make sure you write to the new prompt.


7. Find your “thing” and devote yourself

Every college is looking for something that makes you stick out. It’s not good enough just to be in a club, they want to see you lead it. Find something that you really enjoy in high school and turn it into a leadership opportunity that you can actually be excited about and motivated to participate in.

8. Ask for letters of recommendation early

Teachers and coaches need time to formulate quality recommendation letters. Don’t put off asking because it intimidates you or you’re just too lazy. Those letters can be reused for scholarships too, so ask early and use them often.

9. Whoever said senior year was a breeze LIED 

Senior year is the absolute craziest year of high school. Not only are there deadlines that seemingly come out of nowhere, but your future is coming fast, and you can’t slow down the time enough to do everything you want to do. Stress levels are high the entire year, so take each day one at a time and try not to get overwhelmed by the never-ending to-do list.

10. It’s not the end of the world

Remember when you have a mental breakdown that whatever you are stressing over won’t matter in the long run. You are also not the only one experiencing this; every other senior is going through the same process too. Surround yourself with people that will support you through tick and thin, and remember to celebrate your accomplishments, even the small ones. Take time to enjoy your senior year cause it’s not the end of the world, it’s the beginning of an adventure-filled life.