It’s the beginning of senior year, and I have begun the equally exciting and terrifying process of applying to college. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
You are not special: Everyone is smart and does activities and sports, so unless you’re running your own non-profit or are an astronaut in training (or some other obscure, impossible-seeming resume builder), get in line behind everyone who is exactly like you. For every person who believes he or she is unique, there are probably fifty carbon copies applying to the same college. Not to say you shouldn’t do activities; just understand that you will rarely be set apart from the crowd.
Self-doubt is inevitable: Unless you have someone telling you exactly where to point and click and what to type on your application, you’ll probably be confused. I still think I might have done everything wrong. It would be helpful if there was a class that consisted only of working on college applications, because I doubt that my 1 o’clock-in-the-morning mindset is the one I should be in while writing and submitting essays.
The guidance office is your best friend: Request your transcripts as early as possible! The guidance office is kind enough to send them wherever you want as long as you request it online. This is really convenient and saves a lot of time.
Waiting is awful: If you didn’t already know, waiting can be painful (especially when it comes to what may be the biggest life decision you’ve made to date). Waiting to hear back from colleges, especially large universities, can last for months on end. You would think that applying as early as possible would lead to hearing back earlier, but unless a school has rolling admissions, you will be left hanging for a good four to five months.
I still don’t know what I want to do with my life: If “Undecided” was a major, I would enroll in it.
The Common App is a good thing: Use it as much as you can! It’s like doing one page of homework that applies to three or four different classes. Having one application in a central location for several colleges is really convenient and helps in staying organized.
Everything is expensive: Colleges ask you for money before you’re even accepted in the form of applications, and anytime you want (need) to send SAT or ACT scores to a college, it’s another expense. It’s strange to think I am spending money on a bunch of schools but I’ll only ended up actually going to one of them.
Get your applications done as early as possible: Even though I know I’m not going to receive any decisions for several months, the feeling of not having to worry about sending in applications close to the deadline is great. Sending in applications early means there’s one less thing to worry about later in the year.
You will thank yourself for not slacking freshman year: Your transcript reflects every class you’ve taken since ninth grade (sometimes eighth) so having a consistently decent track record in terms of grades is a huge asset. This is great for me because I may or may not have a serious case of senioritis.
I am really looking forward to college: It may sound strange, but the best part of my weekend is hitting the ‘Submit’ button on an application. The feeling of being productive in combination with realizing that I (hopefully) will be at one of these schools at this same time next year really gives me a sense of optimism. I may not know what I’m doing most of the time, but one thing I do know is that I’m ready to open an acceptance letter and the next chapter of my life.