For Your FYI: Applying For College (Without Losing Your Mind)

Applying for college

Your whole future's riding on this? Okay, yeah. That's a little stressful.

Every year, around this time, a mysterious and terrifying phenomenon sweeps the nation—College Application Anxiety. If you’re getting hives just thinking about applying for college—the forms, the essays, and then the worst part: waiting, you’re far from alone. In the last couple years, high school students have been applying for college in record numbers, which, as you probably already know, can make it even harder to get into your dream school. To keep your head from exploding, we’ve put together a handy-dandy list of insider information. Get reading, and good luck!

Applying to college you have choices

Give yourself options, but you don't need too many!


1. You Don’t Have to Apply to a Billion Schools: High school counselors are saying that students who are applying for college go out to around seven to eight schools each, but some kids are sending their stuff to 10 or more. With the average application fee at $40, and some schools charging even more, I have to wonder—how are they paying for all those apps, and is it even worth it? I mean, knock yourself out if you really want to put yourself out there, but sending that many applications just isn’t necessary for most students. Try my Fab Four strategy instead: One super-reach fantasy school (it’s a long shot, but you can’t not apply!), and then three others that you think you’d be happy at that you have a better chance of getting into—including one that you or your parents could afford with little to no help.

2. Know your odds: The average college gets over 5,000 applications, but some top schools get closer to 50,000—I know, I know. It’s freaky, but don’t lose hope. The New York Times has an awesome feature on their site that lets you see which schools let in the biggest percentage of applicants; and  from just cruising it for a minute, I learned a ton. Did you know that while Harvard only lets in about six percent of students who want to go there (that’s six out of every hundred! ouch!), NYU lets in roughly a one in four? Good to know! And there are other incredible, super cool schools that have higher admissions rates. Rice University in Texas, where Candance Bushnell went, lets in almost one in five applicants; Oberlin College in Ohio, where Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs went, lets in almost one out of three; and Occidental College in California, where Luke Wilson went, lets in almost two of every five. The takeaway? When you’re applying for college, don’t just think of the fancy schools that everybody talks about. There are a billion amazing schools who would love to have you—it’s up to you to find them!

applying to college on deadline

Meeting your deadlines is good. Beating them is better.

3. Get Stuff In Early, Up Your Chances: Even though you may have spent weeks or even months on the perfect application, your materials might only be in front of the woman in charge for about 15 minutes before she decides to put you in the “yes” or “no” pile. Application deadlines are creeping up fast—in fact, some are November 30—but try, try, try not to hit “send” on your application at the last minute. Why? If yours gets in even a week or two early, before all the other procrastinators (and there are a ton of them!), the admissions officers might not be as swamped and will have a little more time to look at your essay, grades, and letters of rec. Applying to college is a biggie. Your application is worth their time. Make sure you get it.

applying to college sometimes you need friends

Even this little guy's feeling your anxiety!

4. Hug a Friend: Does applying for college have you on the verge of crazytown? Find your bestie (or your bear—shhh, we won’t tell!) and get a big hug in right now. Sure, a super-squeeze won’t guarantee you’ll get into your top choice school, but it might just make you feel a teensy bit better.

Are you applying for college right now? Is the whole process enough to drive you nuts? If you’re already in college, are you happy with your choice? Do you wish you’d applied somewhere else? Let us know in the comments!



Posted in: Help&Advice, How To, Just the Facts
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