A little over a year ago I started my journey of applying to colleges. It was one of the scariest, most daunting, and most stressful things I have ever done – and I was doing most of it on my own. Don’t get me wrong, my family, teachers, and friends were all amazingly helpful, but my application process was very much a solo endeavor. However, I learned a lot about myself and the application process in general.
There’s a TON of information floating around about how to write a good essay, seem impressive to colleges, etc. etc. However there are some things no one tells you about the process. So what did I learn applying to 12 schools?
1. Turn in your applications sooner than later. While most schools have a January 1st application deadline, many offer an Early Action deadline as well. I suggest this option, because they are non binding and allow you to know your decision early. Personally, I finished all my applications by December 1st, which allowed me to go in to finals with a bit less stress. Trust me, when it’s winter break and your friends are scrambling to turn in applications, you’ll be resting easy.
2. It’s okay to apply to a lot of schools. In fact, I highly recommend it. Even if you aren’t in love with every school on your list, there’s no harm in sending in an application. Who knows, you could end up finding amazing opportunities and your dream school. In my opinion, you should apply to 1-2 safety schools, 2-3 schools that could go either way, and 1-2 stretch schools. That way, you have plenty of options and you avoid pigeon-holing yourself into just a few schools.
3. It’s okay to not apply where everyone else is applying. Personally, I didn’t apply to any in-state schools. If you want to stay close to home, then you definitely should! But don’t let others discourage you if you decide to apply to schools across the country. Sometimes, in-state schools don’t offer opportunities fit for every student. So don’t be afraid to expand your boarders when searching for your perfect school.
4. You can only do so much. This was the hardest one for me to accept. Even if you have stellar recommendation letters, a resumé most students would kill for, amazing essays, and took every AP class offered to you, you can never guarantee an acceptance. In fact, you may get in to a higher ranked school, while getting rejected at one you thought was a shoo-in. Ultimately, universities have quotas to meet and sometimes, you just won’t make the cut – and that’s okay. Rest assured that you will end up where you are supposed to be.
When you’re in the thick of it, applications seem never ending. Just know they will get done and soon you’ll be able to relax, knowing the decision is out of your hands. So don’t stress – you can do this!
Good luck on your applications, I believe in you!