The college application process is one of the most stressful and daunting challenges a student will face during their high school career. Hyper-competition among selective universities has students aiming for perfect test scores and grades. These high expectations in high school not only pressure students to decide on a declared major for college but also project the idea that you must have perfect grades and test scores to get into your dream college.
Although applying to colleges may seem like a formidable task, it doesn’t have to be–through my own experiences with the process, I’ve learned ways to minimize stress and make applying to college more manageable.
The college admissions process is one of the most arduous challenges a student faces during their high school experience. I was astounded with how much time and research I had to spend to even begin applying to schools. One of the most challenging things for me was deciding which colleges I was interested in, along with deciding which I would choose as my safe colleges and which I would choose as my reach colleges.
During this process I found the Common App to be incredibly helpful in keeping myself organized and selecting colleges that fit my GPA and test scores. Naviance is also a reliable source for narrowing down colleges and majors. I ended up selecting schools in the University of California school system, as well as some private colleges and state schools in California.
When I began applying to University of California schools, I really struggled with figuring out which schools I preferred. Moreover, writing the essays was something I dreaded–as I procrastinated writing, the essays became harder and harder to complete.
What helped me pick out schools in the UC system was Unigo, a website that displays student reviews of universities they’re attending. In addition to reviews, Unigo provides notifications of scholarship deadlines, internships, and information on majors.
Outside of academic factors, the three main factors I had to consider when choosing colleges were location, climate, and family. I knew I wanted to be close to home but far enough to have my own space. It was also important to me to be in a location with a mild climate–not too hot and not too cold. I also considered diversity as a factor since I’ve found it beneficial to surround myself with all different types of people.
If I had to start the college application process over again, I would do many things differently. First, I would’ve managed my time better. My senior year was extremely stressful–on top of applying to colleges, I was trying to balance taking the ACT and SAT, taking AP classes, and building up my extracurricular activities. If I could go back, I would’ve started working on my applications and essays during the summer of my junior year so that I wouldn’t be so stressed during the school year. Making a list of colleges that aligned with my major, interests, GPA, and test schools would have made the process so much more manageable.
Second, I wish I had prepped more for the ACT and SAT. Prepping ahead of time can make all the difference–learning the strategies and managing time were what I found to be most helpful.
In the end, I’m relieved the process is over, and I’m happy to be attending San Francisco State University in the fall.