5 College Application Tips Every High Schooler Should Know

While April has always been one of my favorite months (who doesn’t love spring?), this year April takes on a whole new meaning. As a junior in high school, April is, to quote my friends, Hell Month. Yes, now is a time filled with such vomit-worthy activities such as studying for standardized exams, keeping up grades during the final stretch, narrowing down the college list, and just generally being stressed. It seems that every teacher, parent, college, and employer (here’s looking at you PolicyMic editors!) has coordinated with one another to swamp you with work, obviously due all at the same time. So before we all get stress-related alopecia or set our textbooks on fire, here are 5 tips on how to deal with it all.

1) Realize You Aren’t Alone: Thousands upon thousands of kids are going through the college process. At the end of it all, some will emerge victorious, going to their top choice and leading wildly successful lives. Congrats to them! But know that for everyone of those kids, there are plenty who have to sacrifice, compromise, or settle on a school and that’s OK too. Not going to your first choice is disappointing, but it is not the be-all end-all. Plenty of people are successful without college at all, so you can certainly be successful at you’re your second or third choice. Would I give my left pinky finger to go to Brown? Probably. Can I be happy somewhere else? Absolutely. And so can you!

2) You Only Have to Do it Once: After you send the apps, take the tests, and graduate you will have somewhere to go and something to do and you can put all the stress of the process behind you. It may not have turned out exactly as you planned, but as previously stated, that’s fine. By the end, you’ll never have to look at another college counselor and you’ll have a whole year before you have to fill out the FAFSA again! It’s almost over, just hang in there!

3) Go Out On a Limb: Feeling queasy about your options? Take a chance! Apply to those dream schools, consider at schools abroad, look into gap years, get info on community college and potentially transferring, maybe find a job you think would be more rewarding than school. Just because an option isn’t normal that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your consideration. Being more aware of other options makes the process seem less intimidating.

4) Find Someone To Talk To: Find a senior, a college counselor, a therapist, a teacher, a parent or (my personal favorite) consult the Internet if you have questions. They’ve all been there and have answers. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions, no one is born knowing everything about the college process and most people like to help or offer advice, hence this article.

5) When All Else Fails, Just Have Fun: This may be particularly New Orleanian of me, but it does help. Sometimes it’s all too much and you just need to let it go. You are in high school, after all. Working 24/7 isn’t healthy, and it’s not what colleges want. Go see some slam poetry, throw a borderline out-of-control house party, or just watch the entire third season of Lost – whatever makes you happy. Schools don’t want robots, they want well-rounded, fun-loving, kids who are able to balance work and play.  Keep your sanity, have fun once in a while.