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10 Priorities that Can Ease College Admissions Stress
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
You might also want to take a look at CollegeVine’s Student Mentorship Program! Our program pairs high school students with accomplished older peers that act as positive role models and help walk them through every step of the college process, from filling out the common app to acing the intimidating interviews.
Finally, take a look at these stress-relieving blog posts: