Lessons From The College Application Process

Rising seniors are beginning to assemble documentation for their applications, and filling in the Common App which now rolls over for the next application season.   I’ve heard college students lament choices they made at this point in their journey and I’ve read about the lessons others have learned.  Here are a few.

1. Get your priorities straight before you start choosing where to apply.  If you don’t know what you want from a college or the education it offers, you can’t begin to make good decisions.

2. Getting into an ultra-selective college may boost your ego but the actual environment might not be so appealing.  One student was upset to find her friends took free time when she was studying and studied when she wanted to play or sleep.  The constant pressure of exams and projects wore her down, resulting in a 6-week bout with mono.

3. Choose your colleges wisely.  Don’t add some just because Uncle Henry went there, your mom liked the campus, or it has a respected name.  If you don’t like a college or don’t think you’re a good fit, don’t apply because you might be the only one you get into and the one you will attend.

4. Mind your deadlines! Everything must be in on time and there are no do-overs.

5. It isn’t possible to know or understand the variables that each college considers and how the elements are weighted.  If you did, you would still not be able to maximize your use of the application real estate.  Stop worrying about getting everything right on each application.  Do the best you can.  When you click Submit, let it go and enjoy peace of mind.

6. Prepare for disappointment.  No matter how wonderful you are, how bright, thoughtful, charismatic, committed, you are, college admissions decisions can seem random (and maybe they are).

7. Do not prepare for failure.  Getting a “Dear Suzie” letter only means that you weren’t the right person at the right time for that college.  It isn’t a failure.  We humans are good a picking ourselves up and moving on.  I give the same advice for college rejections as I do for dating or not getting the perfect job: Why would you waste time on someone who doesn’t want to be with you, want to hire you, or admit you to their freshman class: step right up to the person, job or college that really wants to have you.  That is the one that deserves you!

Plan your college applications carefully, execute diligently, trust your own judgement.  I’m here to help.  Stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

Please share with others who may need this information.



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