What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

10 Priorities that Can Ease College Admissions Stress

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Even for the most organized student the college admissions process isn’t easy. There are lots of moving pieces to juggle; between academics, extracurriculars, test prep, interviews, and any other responsibilities, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Add college applications to the mix, and the pressure can easily become overwhelming!


Prioritizing the college admissions process is key to ensuring nothing important falls to the wayside. Obviously, depending on your strengths and weaknesses, your priorities might come in a different order than the ones listed below. In general, though, these priorities should help you feel less overwhelmed during college admissions.


Wondering which priorities should be at the top of the list? Keep reading!



Get organized and stay focused

When all else fails, it’s never a bad idea to prioritize organization. Try making and sticking to a daily, weekly, or even monthly schedule for college admissions tasks and deadlines. Services like iCal or Google Calendar might also be helpful — it’s more motivating to see all of your long-term and short-term deadlines together,  and to be able to check them off as you go!



Focus on grades

Short of sleeping overnight in your school’s library or doing math homework instead of eating dinner, you can never take academics too seriously. As a rule of thumb, schoolwork should also come as a top priority in high school. After all, extracurriculars and SATs are important in college admissions, but first and foremost, you are in school to learn. Try to complete all your assignments on time if you aren’t already, and set up after-school appointments with your teachers if you find yourself needing extra help.



Choose the right courses

It’s hard to do well in school and learn about yourself if you aren’t in the right courses. While many high school classes are required, use your electives to not only explore subjects that you are most passionate about, but also the subjects that will challenge you and help you expand upon your skills.


If you aren’t sure exactly how you should be choosing your high school courses, take a look at this post: Decisions, Decisions: Choosing Classes as a High-School Senior.



Take standardized tests seriously

SATs and ACTs aren’t the be-all end-all of life, but they do factor heavily in college admissions. If you haven’t already, pick up a prep book, take a practice test, enroll in a prep course, or even consider looking for a tutor. To learn more about setting up an SAT study plan, CollegeVine has some blog posts that may be helpful:


Your SAT Study Plan for the Summer Before 12th Grade

4 Test Prep Goals to Help You Ace the SAT

How To Balance SAT Test Prep With School Schedule



Apply for scholarships

It’s never too early to begin applying for scholarships! There are many scholarships available depending on your background, your interests, or even the college you are going to attend. You might want to begin by searching for scholarships that you are eligible for and make a note in your calendar to apply to when the time comes.


Here’s a blog post that relates to beginning your scholarship search: Getting a Head Start on Your Scholarship Search.



Focus on one community service project

Doing a community service project isn’t only a great way to get college admissions stress off of your mind, it’s also a wonderful way to give back to your community! Take a look at the issues that are important in your community — perhaps there are many homeless people where you live, or maybe a local lake is polluted, or an animal shelter is in need of more volunteers.


Then, begin thinking about what you can do to help and get involved. Working on community service projects can be helpful on college applications, but more importantly, doing this type of work is also sure to enrich your life and those of others.


Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

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Start your college search early

If the thought of going to college stresses you out, and you’re overwhelmed with all the options, it might be time to start your college search. Start by visiting admissions websites, talking to college students you know, and attending information sessions.


Doing this can help you determine early on what you are and aren’t looking for in a college. Spend time thinking about what aspects of a college experience are most important to you. Choosing a college that is a good fit for you is extremely important, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly!


For tips on how to choose the right school for you, you can go to:


Choosing a College: How to Get Started

What to Consider When Applying to and Choosing Colleges



Cultivate strong recommendations

You will need recommendations from your teachers to apply to college, so work on building these relationships early! In order for a teacher to recommend you, they will need to be able to vouch for your performance both in and out of the classroom, so be sure to take initiate and show them what you are passionate about.


You might even consider staying after school to ask for extra help or advice, or just to talk to them about your aspirations for the future. You never know what advice your teachers might have to offer you!



Spend a significant amount of time on your college essay

The college essay is an extremely important aspect of your application. It is through this piece of writing that admissions committees get to know you personally, so be sure not to save it until the last minute. You might even think about writing rough draft early and running it by a few pairs of trusted eyes for some feedback.


For more college essay advice, take a look at:


8 Do’s and Don’ts For Crafting Your College Essay

Why Summer is the Perfect Time to Write Your College Essay




The college admissions season is stressful, but prioritizing the process can make it less overwhelming and help you in making more informed decisions about your future.


Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academicschoosing coursesstandardized testsextracurricular activitiesand much more!


Finally, take a look at these stress-relieving blog posts:


How to Slay College Application Season Stress

Parents: 4 Ways to Help Your Teen Manage High School Stress

Being Well: How to Manage Stress & Cultivate Mental Health in High School

What’s the Pressure Going To Be Like? A Guide to Understanding the Stresses of College


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Devin Barricklow
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Devin Barricklow is a Political Science and Creative Writing double major at Columbia University. She’s really excited to be able to share her expertise about the college process with students who need advice. When she isn’t writing for CollegeVine, she enjoys reading the poems of Mary Oliver, going to concerts in the city, or cooking (preferably something with lots of bok choy and ginger).