College apps! In all honesty, everything about college apps is stressful. I did not know where to apply, where to start on the application and if I would be able to finish.
I was literally deciding where to apply one week before the CSU and UC deadline. But hey, I finished, and so will you!
I applied to a total of 13 schools so I would like to think I have some tricks up my sleeve about applying.
1. Write your essays from the heart.
I know it seems like you need to have perfectly crafted essays for your college apps that make you seem like you're Albert Einstein. But college essays are all about showing who you are, what makes you you and what you've done these past 4 years. Be genuine, its alright if you go over the word count and have fun with it. I personally always went over the word count and when I tried to reduce it didn't sound good anymore. My suggestion is write your heart out, almost as if you were telling a story to a friend and then have a college adviser read it. It may sound crazy for me to say that you should have fun but if you're writing about something you truly care about - you should enjoy writing about it. If you don't know how to elaborate on something, you're probably forcing it. Don't. Try writing about something else, even if it seems hard at first. Ask someone you know or a college adviser for advice.
2. Prioritize your happiness.
Ever since my freshmen year, I was told the formula for success was doing lots of extracurricular activities, getting high SAT scores and straight A's. I tried my best to follow these instructions. I overwhelmed myself with activities, AP classes and stress. Your happiness and insanity is SO important. Do not ever do something "because it looks good on a college app". I did that for the past 3 years and I have found that if you do something for the sake of doing it, it is not going to help you much in the long run. If you do not care about something, there is no way you're going to be able to write about it in an college essay. There is also a limited amount of activities you can include in a college app. So do things for you, no one else. You should definitely push yourself and try new things but do not do them so colleges like you. If you are a hard worker and want to success, any college would be lucky to have you. If a college does not want you, its their loss.
3. Don't struggle alone.
College advisers will change your life! I personally got a lot of help from Ms. Jessica and my Summer Search counselor, Joni. Joni pushed me to apply to more schools. I was not even going to apply out of state. But Joni convinced me to push myself and apply to Ivies and liberal arts schools. Begin talking to a college adviser as soon as you can, the sooner the better. Often, they will see potential in you that you may not see. They are also more experienced in the process and the sense of security they provide is priceless. Put in effort to reach out to them and they will put in effort into helping you succeed.
4. Start early.
Practically anyone you talk to about college apps will tell you that you need to start the summer of your junior year in order to finish. It is really helpful to start early. I personally started pretty late and although I was able to finish, I wish I gave myself more time. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. There will be times where you have to decide between studying for a test or working on your college apps. It is bound to happen, so make the decision you think is best for you. I personally wish I prioritized college apps over my schoolwork at times but you live and you learn. I also suggest being done with your SAT junior year. I finished my SAT December of my senior year. WORST DECISION EVER. I had no time to study and it was way too stressful to worry about on top of college apps. So don't be like Hennah and get the SAT over with.
You'll be done soon. Remember to still enjoy your senior year and spent time with your friends because after this, who knows where you will all be. I believe in you.
Hope this helps, at least a little.