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Take the stress out of college applications

Juniors, work now to plan for a stress-free college application process

Take the stress out of college applications

If you’re feeling stressed just thinking about how to apply to colleges next fall, you’re not alone.

Don’t stress, though! These simple tips can drastically reduce your stress levels as you work through choosing and applying to college.

Get on the ball
“Start early, start early, start early,” says Christel Milak-Parker of College Connections, a consulting firm.

Rushing through the process will only hurt you in the long run.

Narrow your choices
When it is time to begin filling out your applications, don’t apply to an overwhelming number of schools.

Strategically selecting your target schools will save you time and money. Try to choose a few schools you feel extremely confident about your acceptance chances, a few you feel would be a stretch to be accepted to, and two to four schools that would be solid good matches.

Don’t get bogged down by rankings; instead, focus on which schools are good matches for you.

Get it together
With so many deadlines and applications floating around, disorganization is your worst enemy. Designate a space in your room or house that is reserved for college application materials.

To make the application process easier, Milak-Parker says it’s really important to create your résumé before you begin filling out applications.

Set deadlines
Once you have decided where to apply to college, make sure you are aware of the specific deadlines for each school.  Know the other important dates as well, including financial aid, scholarship and housing deadlines.

Seek help if needed
Some students may need a little more help keeping things together and making it through the process.

That is where a college consultant can come into play.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your school counselor or an independent consultant if you need it.

Be yourself
When filling out the applications, be genuine.

“I would tell students not to overthink the process,” says Aaron Brown, a senior assistant director of admissions at the University of Southern California ( “They should be themselves in the application. Let who you are chime through with essays and activities. Often students can try too hard in the sense that they stress over every word and comma.”

Waiting for that thick acceptance envelope can be agonizing, but if you have spent the time and effort to approach the process in an organized way, you can rest a little easier.

Katherine Koenig from Tuscaloosa, Ala., is a recent graduate of the University of Alabama.


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