8 Simple Ways To Make Applying To College Easier

Applying to college is hard. I know this to be an (anecdotal) fact because I myself am a person who has applied to college and that, my friends, is basically the only qualification that you need to know that the college application process has a tendency to be one of the worst things in the world. Even though my own process was, objectively, successful (I applied to college. I got into a college. I attended a college, and then I graduated the college, and now I am done with college), I still can’t help but get residual stress-hives and cold sweats when I think back on all of the “art supplement” packages and last minute essay switches, as well as the late-night screaming matches I forced my mom to endure because I was stressed and she was there . (Sorry, mom. Love you. You’re the GOAT.)

But. If I knew then what I know now, I would know that college application season does not have to turn you into the raging stress-monster that most people have come to expect. Lots of colleges have started to make their applications more “fun,” first of all. There is also a lot of things that you can do to make the process better. So, check out these easy tips to get your college applications done quickly and painlessly:

Don't Tell A Lot Of People Where You're Applying

Though it can often feel like the most personal and intimate thing in  the world, getting accepted into or rejected from a university really isn't that personal--it simply means that that your own qulifications did not line up with the formulaic requirements the school had for that year. It becomes personal, however, when everyone at your school knows exactly where you're applying, what your essay for each school is, and your personal rankings for each of these schools. Talk to your family about it, talk to your close friends about it, and, obviously, talk to your teachers and counselors about it. Just don't make constant Facebook status updates about your college admissions process. This way, you won't have to deal with people asking you about your dream school that you happen to have been rejected from--and, if you do get into our dream school, it'll be a much more surprising and triumphant announcement.

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Don't Apply To Too Many Schools

Please don't apply to, like, twenty schools just because you're freaked about getting in somewhere. At first, this seems like a no-brainer--why not apply to literally every school you can to increase your odds of getting into at least one?--but you've only got a certain amount of time and effort you can put into each application. Applying to a bunch of schools spreads you way thin, and depletes the amount of work you can put into the applications for the schools you really do want to go to. Plus, say you do get into all of these schools--you'll have to pick (which is a good problem to have, surem but a headache ) and in this process you'll wonder why you even bothered applying to so many. You're only going to one school. You don't need to apply to twenty.

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Write Down A Plan

One of my friends in high school made a chart on a big poster board of every school she was applying to and the date the application was due. then, she made separate boxes for everything she had to do--essays, test scores, letters of recommendation, and checked off each step when she finished it. Then, when she was done with the entire process for that school, she got to cross the whole thing out. it was super satisfying! obviously, you don't have to do this entire plan, but mapping out the steps for each school you're applying to can make the whole process seem a little less daunting--plus, online applications don't ever feel totally finished, even when you've pressed "submit." there's a sort of instant gratification that comes from crossing something off on a list that really solidifies your virtual application.

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Don't Only Apply To Brand-Name Schools

Everyone at my high school was obnoxious and competitive when it came to college stuff, which meant that my classmates were constantly name-dropping the Ivy League schools they were applying to and the fancy college counselors they were using to help them get into them, throwing me into a panic over whether I should be applying to Ivy League colleges (no) or if I should hire a college counselor (also no). It can be easy to get caught up in rankings, but the perfect school for you could be one that isn't that highly-ranked, but just happens to offer you a great scholarship. or have a program that you love, or just have a campus that just seems right for you. So, don't be intimidated by the Ivy League folk. (Also, for what it's worth, the people who talk the loudest about going to Harvard almost never end up getting into Harvard. Not that you should be vindictive, obviously. Just pay attention later on.)

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Use The Resources You Have

Got a guidance counselor? Use them. Got a college center? Use it. Got a teacher who offered to help with applications? Use them. I mean, be nice about it (write thank you notes! Your teachers work so hard! for relatively little gain, finance-wise!), but you'll be kicking yourself if you don't use any of the resources your school provides to make college applications easier.

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Don't Wait Until The Very Last Minute

I mean, you probably know this, but it should be said again--absolutely do not wait until the last minute to get your applications done. If you do, you will be miserable. Homework, bizarrely, tends to ramp up right when your applications are due, and you do not want to have to choose between finishing your grade-determining AP Lit essay or the essay for your dream school. It would suck to have your application discounted on a technicality, so get all of your "housekeeping" work--like sending off test scores, requests for teacher recommendations, and financial aid applications--done now, before you forget later on. Write a resume, if you don't have one already, so you have something to give to your teachers when they're writing recommendations. You should also get your main Common App essay done now, so you can have other people look it over before you submit it.

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Apply For Scholarships, Too

I know--adding more applications to what is probably already a pretty lengthy list is probably the last thing you want to do. But college is expensive, and there are so many awesome scholarships that basically sit around without anyone ever applying to them, which means that you have a really good chance of getting a scholarship by just putting in a minimal amount of effort. You can find scholarships on Fastweb and Cappex, among other places. (Also, look into policies that the schools you're applying to have for applications and scholarship--some automatically consider you for scholarships without having to do any extra work if you apply slightly earlier.)

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Sorry. I know that this is an annoying piece of advice because everyone else has probably told you not to relax, because your college decision is the most important decision of your life, and if you slack off not, you won't get in anywhere, and then, your life will be over. This is not true. Yeah, the college you go to is important, but it's also something that, when it comes down to it, you have relatively little control over. College admissions have so many factors that you don't even see--EXAMPLES--that putting all of the weight on your shoulders alone isn't going to do you much good in the long run. Now, this doesn't mean that you should just dash off a bunch of applications without looking them over. You still need to work hard, but if you follow the previous steps, do your best, and a I promise things will work out just as well (if not better) than if you'd agonized over essays until four in the morning every night. If not? It's not something that you should plan on, necessarily, but transferring is literally always an option.

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Are you applying to college? Do you have any good tips? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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