Recently on the ABC Family hit show Pretty Little Liars, Emily receives a letter from Danby University claiming that they want her as part of their swim team. (Keeping with the tradition of Liars the letter is actually a fake from the mysterious and malicious person named “A”). Nevertheless, a real college scout is willing to negotiate a scholarship with her, but Emily doesn’t mind looking at other schools too. Emily and her mother continue to do their research to prepare her for her application process, which includes looking at competitive swim teams. Emily’s best friend Aria is also thinking about college and keen to boost her profile. Aria has decided to enroll in a community college course to get college credit and diversify her curriculum. Her character isn’t free from the typical woes of a teenage drama show, but it looks like even a fictional character can’t escape the real-life drama and anxiety of applying to college.
Just like your fave TV kids, you are ready for college too. If you’re nervous about the college application process, then ease your nerves by doing the following things:
1. Start brainstorming and writing your college essays early (as in now). It’s best to work on the essays without the pressure from schoolwork and extracurriculars. Make sure to fully understand the essay prompt and present yourself in the best light.
2. Timelines! Not knowing deadlines can be stressful in itself. Make sure to start everything early and get it in when your application has been perfected. Don’t rush at the last minute.
3. Research schools to apply to and keep your expectations realistic. Sit down with your family, counselors, friends, etc. and pick schools. Make sure your choices are reasonable and that you are a competitive applicant. Don’t overestimate or underestimate yourself. Consider location, financial aid, academics, etc. when choosing. Also decide how many essays you are willing to write. For example, the University of California common application is useful because it is common to all 9 UC schools. Know which schools also suit your needs in terms of areas of interest and career/research opportunities. Large research schools are better if you’re interested in science while a small liberal arts school can meet your needs for a humanities major. Picking schools and planning accordingly can easily lower stress.
4. While most applications are online, paper applications can be used for practice. Print out the paper app and fill it out to familiarize yourself with the application questions and format.
5. Attend college admissions workshops. Ask your school or test prep centers if they offer workshops. Also try getting in touch with recent admits or college admissions officers for a first-hand perspective.
6. Read the Excel blog! This blog has covered almost all topics regarding admissions.
7. Just like Emily from the show, make sure your school matches your extracurricular interests as well such as sports teams.
8. Most importantly, maintain and improve your GPA as much as possible. Work hard for good test scores and grades because they provide the school your first impression. A reasonable GPA can make the process much easier.
So don’t stress out and follow two simple rules: start early and get excited. Be excited about your colleges not nervous! While a mysterious figure named “A” messes with the college applications of our TV characters, you can rest easy on just doing your best.