Don’t Let College Application Anxiety Keep You From Having a Fun and Successful School Year
The glow of a new school year has worn off, and now college-bound high school seniors are diving head first into college applications – and the stress that comes with it.
Anxiety and stress is common among students applying to college, but it doesn’t have to be. Many students, especially those applying to highly selective colleges, can put a lot of pressure on themselves senior year, and this can cause a lot of sleepless nights. A recent UCLA survey of college freshmen found that 18% of students spent 16 hours or more with their friends each week during their senior year of high school – a big drop compared to 37.9% of students in 1987. Many students are so preoccupied with getting into college, they’re neglecting the things that can help them distress and have fun.
We understand the stress that students and parents are under when it comes to applying to college. While getting into a top-choice school requires diligence, it doesn’t have to consume students’ lives. It’s important for kids to be kids, while still working toward their goals.
Here are some tips to help students (and parents!) manage college application stress this fall.
Going through the college admissions process without a clear idea of what you need to prepare and when applications are due can add a mountain of anxiety to an already stressful process.
Students should make a spreadsheet or mark a calendar with important dates, such as application deadlines, testing dates, deadlines to request transcripts, etc. Students also need to plan when they’ll approach teachers and counselors for recommendations, submit art portfolios if applicable, and more. Students should also make a checklist of required application materials for each school they’re applying to in order to make sure they have everything they need prior to the deadline. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute.
Start early and stay ahead.
Hopefully students got a head start on their essays this summer, but if not, now’s the time to get going. Set aside some time each day or week to work on college applications, essays, and other materials. Students should break down the work into manageable chunks so they’re able to get and stay ahead. This also helps with managing anxiety, as a few essays spread out over a few weeks can cut down on stress, rather than feeling overwhelmed trying to get everything done at once at the last minute.
Continue to follow your passions.
Yes, applying to college is time consuming, but it doesn’t mean that students have to isolate themselves from the things they enjoy for the sake of staying busy. It’s important for students to continue to do the things they enjoy – whether it’s a club, activity, sport, or something completely unrelated to school. Take time to relax and do things that make you happy. Finding time to decompress doing fun activities can help students recharge and come back to schoolwork or college applications with a fresh mind and energy to work.
Ask for help from teachers, counselors, and parents.
Students: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s common for students to buckle down and accept that senior year is just this stressful, but not asking for help when you need it can make your grades, applications, and health suffer. If you’re struggling with a class, ask a teacher for help. If college applications are overwhelming, then talk to your counselor. If you’re really struggling to get ahead and focus on your goals, talk to your parents about what you’re feeling and work out a solution to get back on track. Don’t go through senior year feeling anxious and stressed.
Parents: If you have a stressed-out teen, lend an ear. Often time students need someone to talk to about how they’re feeling. Work together to find a solution, but don’t put more pressure on your student. This process can often strain the parent-child relationship as students can feel like parents are adding to the pressure. Be your student’s cheerleader and offer guidance. If there are serious academic problems, don’t be afraid to talk to your student’s teachers or counselors. Also don’t be afraid to turn to experts who can help your child through the college admissions process, allowing you to be the emotional support.
Take a deep breath. Everything will work out.
Remember, if you applied to a balanced list of best-fit colleges, you will get into a great school where you can be happy and successful. In the end, everything will work out. While getting into college is many students’ ultimate goal, they should also aim to enjoy their last year of high school. As long as you submit applications that capture who you are as a student and a person, maintain good grades, and continue to follow your passions, you’ll have a successful school year – and application season.