5 Things I Wish I Had Known before Applying to College

Image by Min Wei via Flickr/CreativeCommons

Especially dedicated to the class of 2015

1.       At first you think that boasting about your many accomplishments is fun but…

It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. I came into this year’s application season wide-eyed and excited about decorating my Common App with my many awards and extracurricular activities. I thought to myself, Well that can’t be too agonizing at all. I’m only talking about how awesome I am… But by November my communication skills were reduced to incoherent groaning noises whenever someone mentioned a resume. I was tired of writing my name and SSN on every sheet of paper placed in front of me. Whenever an application asked me “why” I was tempted to reply with a curt “because,” because it’s a tedious process. I do believe that every applicant should be enthusiastic about making a decision on where to spend the next four years of their life. But don’t mistake this for a party, because you will be very disappointed.


2.       Things get mega expensive…

Your parents have been complaining about your potential tuition cost since your freshman year of high school. But believe it or not, things get expensive even before you receive that cute little acceptance letter in the mail. Transportation costs (if you plan to visit your potential institutions) and application fees are real money magnets. And as your parents’ pennies and dimes come zipping out of their pockets and purses you can’t help but feel a little bad—especially if your family hadn’t anticipated paying that much money to institutions you might not even attend. But there is a way to alleviate these expenses. That is, if you are on free or reduced lunch at your school. This year, I printed out a few NACAC waivers, filled them out, and gave them to my counselor to sign and mail to my respective institutions. I suggest you do the same next year, juniors.


3.       Don’t get hung up on what college stat sites say…

Before, during, and after you send those applications in to be brutally critiqued processed by your schools, you might feel tempted to go on websites that try to guess what your likelihood of being accepted might be. You may also stumble upon a certain site where paranoid high school students and their helicopter-tigermom parents make forums asking complete strangers to “chance” their applications for the Harvard Class of 2051. You might even be tempted to type your college’s name in a Google search just so you can gawk at the little side bar with the college’s acceptance rate on it. But while these resources can harbor a lot of helpful information, the happiest high school seniors tend to be the ones who stay away from them. I’ve lost a lot of sleep and tears lurking on these sites and reading horror stories about perfect applicants being rejected from my dream school.


4.       Don’t take yourself too seriously…

You are writing your admissions essays and suddenly you feel the insatiable urge to throw in a few big words Ernest Hemingway had never even heard of. You curl up in your bed at night and ponder how you can save the world and tell the admissions office about it just before the decisions are sent out. Your college tells you that they “practice holistic review” but you don’t believe them, because to them, your worth is only measured by a test score and a GPA. You’ve got to chill out. Holistic review does exist. Hundreds of kids with perfect marks are rejected and we have to wonder why. They have the grades, but do they have the personality on paper? Maybe the college didn’t like the twenty-one-lettered adjectives they used in every other sentence. Maybe the 50 page manifesto on how they planned to sail across the Atlantic and save a little African child from politically-induced poverty just wasn’t enough—or maybe it was too much.


5.       Everyone is just as scared as you are…

Everyone has that friend who seems like they have everything together. They’re all over college and scholarship dates while everyone else scrambles to keep up. But the truth is, that friend is crying just as much as you are. You are all just a bunch of high school kids. All you’re equipped with is the internet and your own wits, and not one of you has any idea what you’re doing. But that’s okay. In fact, it’s the biggest comfort you can find in the college application process. Everyone is on the same level and everyone faces the same stress.


All you have to do is make it to graduation, so ride on.

Lauren About Lauren
The creator of the site. Read her posts and comment so that she doesn't cry or something.

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