A Guide to Tackling the infamous “College Process”

A Guide to Tackling the infamous College Process

Kelly Ryan, Contributor

As if high school itself wasn’t stressful enough with various homework assignments, tests, projects, sports, clubs, jobs, and every other stressful factor of being a teenager, junior year comes along and reality slaps you in the face.

“What do you wanna do when you grow up?”, “Where do you wanna go to school?” Every holiday, family get together and conversation with guidance counselors turns your world into one that solely revolves around the word ‘college.’

Here are some tips on how to survive and make the college application process more manageable:

Start as early as you can.

Some students get an early start, and begin taking surveys and questionnaires to lay down some potential career interests and possible schools of interest. Others begin touring schools during February and April vacation, and some even wait until the summer before Senior year or even in the first few months of it to start.

Judging from experience, starting as early as you can is a huge benefit. Even if it’s just going on campus visits, attending open house events, or doing a little research every once in a while during Junior year, these among many ideas will give you a head start and lead you in the right direction.


There are dozens of assessments such as the career interest profiler, ‘Do What You Are’, ‘Super Match College Search’ and so many more to get you started. FILL THEM OUT. They will give you great insight about where you should start looking.

Personally, I started touring schools during the February vacation of my Junior year. I created lists, stuck them on my bulletin board at home and named them, “Where I Want to Visit,” “Possibilities,” “No’s,” and “Definites.”

Check out the school before you decide you want to apply.

Not many people think about it, but the campus and the location can be a huge deciding factor for you later down the road.

I found a variety of schools I wanted to look at and put them on my “Want to Visit” list. After I toured a school, listened to the information session and got a feel for what it was like to be a student there, I put that college into one of the other three categories. This helped me narrow down my list of where I wanted to apply.

When you visit a school, talk to current students.

Separate yourself from your parents, and ask current students questions. Ask them about what they do, what clubs they’re a part of, if they like their dorms, the food, etc. It’s not creepy, I promise. Students love to brag about themselves and their university.

Finally, after months and months of walking around campuses, sitting in on presentations and talking to professors and admissions counselors, I narrowed down the list to my favorite six schools. Six schools where I could see myself going, places where I could picture having a life there, where I would feel at home and where I would fit in, where I would find my niche and be successful academically and socially.

Take advantage of early action applications.

Getting your name to the college before the regular decision deadline will give you the advantage of hearing back sooner and results in less stress as decision day approaches. But, make sure you are happy with your grades for Senior year during Quarter one. Everyone has to send those grades, so be sure not to slack off in the beginning of the year.

Make sure you fill out the Common App (if the schools you are applying to use it) ENTIRELY and don’t leave anything out. This is your chance to tell colleges everything about you. When writing your college essay, say everything you want the school to know (that you didn’t already say in the Common App questions). A little self confidence and pride in your essay isn’t a bad thing.

The Guidance Department will either become your best friend or your worst enemy.

You’ll find yourself in their office, hounding them about getting your transcript in on time and meeting all your deadlines. BUT DON’T FREAK OUT. Guidance deadlines are different from your application deadlines. So, don’t get into any fights. Deadlines won’t be missed; they make sure of it.

Have you English teacher or guidance counselor proofread your College Essay and make comments.

Four eyes are better than two. They may have really good suggestions about your composition and judge it from an admission standpoint.

Remember: the stress is worth it.

Of course, there are many more stressful factors to the application process. Asking teachers for recommendations, taking the SAT and ACT tests, etc., But the application and essay are probably the most nerve wracking, well, for me anyway.

However, once it’s done, you’ll feel great. All your hard will pay off when you hit the submit button, I promise.

The Waiting Game

When everything is sent in, you’ll find you have nothing to do. You’ve spent the past eight months working endlessly and now you have nothing work on. And, I’m not going to lie, WAITING IS HORRIBLE. It’s so much worse than the actual application process. Your friends and people in your grade will be hearing back and posting acceptance letters on social media and gushing about how many schools they got into.

And you will still be waiting…

and waiting….

and waiting.

Eventually, you will get into a college, despite your deepest fears and worries. You will get that acceptance letter, just be patient.

Senior Emma Nelson shares her emotions after receiving  letters of approval from the University of Maine and Elmira College. “Receiving your first acceptance letter is one of the best feelings because you feel like all your hard work has paid off!”

So, good luck future college student. You’re going to do great things after high school.