Advice to reduce college application stress

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Advice to reduce college application stress

Seniors recently attended an

Seniors recently attended an "I Applied" party, hosted by the counseling office.

Seniors recently attended an "I Applied" party, hosted by the counseling office.

Seniors recently attended an "I Applied" party, hosted by the counseling office.

Lillian Peterson, Staff Writer

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College applications can be an extremely confusing and stressful time for people. This is especially true for first-generation students or people who do not have a sibling who´s applied before. However, there are steps that can be taken in order to ease the process.

College Board, an organization that prepares students for college, recommends beginning by organizing and keeping track of everything one needs. To stay organized one could create ¨a checklist to track progress” or ¨a folder for storing documents.¨ Everything should be orderly and easy to access.

In these folders, resources should be placed. Resources that are necessary often include: Social Security number, one’s high school code, high school transcripts, and score reports from college admission tests.

Another piece of advice College Board has is to check deadlines. Some colleges offer early action or early decision. Early action is non-binding while early decision is binding, and seniors should figure out if they want to apply with either one of those options as the deadlines are often early November. Another thing to figure out is which application to use whether that be coalition, common, or universal college application.

An important piece of paper work to turn in is FAFSA; the earlier it is turned in, the better. FAFSA is an application for financial aid based upon need. The money is issued by the government.

Be sure to understand what the colleges require beyond the basic ACT or SAT tests. Selective universities often require SAT subject tests which should be taken junior year or early senior year. Other schools require a CSS Profile to be completed. The CSS profile is another financial aid application; however, it is much more detailed than FAFSA and is run by College Board.

Renee Champagne, counselor, also recommends staying on top of deadlines as well.

¨Look at when application deadlines and requirements are. For example, some colleges have rolling admissions. Either way, earlier is better; [there is a] better chance of admission and scholarships,¨ Champagne said. She also suggests creating spreadsheets to stay organized.

College Board recommends applying to five to eight schools. It is suggested to apply to some schools that are a “stretch,” some that “will admit you,” and some in the middle. Most importantly, they should be colleges that are good and realistic matches that one actually wants to go to.

Besides gathering all the needed resources, Champagne believes that ”the summer after junior year” is the best time to also begin working on the applications.

¨[It is a] good place to start on essays, extracurricular, leadership qualities,” and start putting ¨all that stuff in” as well. This helps to make it ¨less stressful when the school year begins,” Champagne elaborated.

Sarah Hume, 12, in agreement with Champagne, wishes that she began the application work earlier.

¨You’ll hear people say that all the time; it’s true-that way there’s less pressure,¨ Hume said. It is hard balancing senior year work, and college applications and getting the brunt of it done over the summer relieves much of the stress.  

The ability to take time to think out the essays is one of the most important part of the application process, as both Champagne and Hume believe it is what the most time should be spent on. Both Champagne and Hume agree that the essays, besides requiring the most time, must be authentic.  

¨Be genuine. Write about what you’re passionate about and it will come through-this is all about finding where you fit best,” Hume said.

Champagne echoes Hume’s advice.

“[You] want it to sound like you, unique and specific. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Don’t think about what the colleges want you to be saying. [also] have someone reading it over. Grammar mistakes could cause you not to get in if school is selective,” Champagne said.

College applications, may look intimidating on the surface, but as long as one starts on them early, stays organized, and takes time to write thoughtful essays, the stress associated with them will be minimal.