How to Handle Stress as a College Applicant

Ashley Thommana
May 11, 2024

Senior year has a daunting reputation, and understandably so. As a student, you have worked your way up to a challenging course load. Apart from academics, you may have extracurriculars or other commitments you are dedicated to. And on top of that all, you are working on your college applications or future plans. It is a lot.

Feeling stressed ahead of and during this time is completely understandable. The college application season is demanding. There is a lot to balance. Here are a few tips that we at Dewey Smart feel may help you navigate and reduce your stress during this time:

1. Surround yourself with a strong support system

Scientific research has told us that humans are social creatures. We are wired to provide and seek support to and from others. During your college application process, surrounding yourself with a strong support system is important to helping manage any stress you face. 

Your support system can be friends, family, teachers, counselors, coaches or other individuals in your life. Some of these people may have experienced or may be experiencing the college application cycle. They may be able to relate to the emotions and experiences you face during the process. 

Sharing how you feel, asking for advice, or even just spending time with people who are important to you are all methods of relieving stress as you navigate college applications. 

2. Stay organized

College applications involve a lot of moving pieces: your essays, transcript, letters of recommendation, setting up a portal with the school, checking to make sure everything has reached before the deadline. Staying organized in both balancing your college application workload with your other commitments like academics and in your college applications themselves is a great way to manage the stress of this time.

Having a planner, or a spreadsheet, that keeps track of important dates and assignments can help you have a plan for the upcoming weeks. Some key deadlines include:

The best time to make progress in this regard is summer. Use this time to look into the information you need to have a smooth sailing first semester, during the peak of college application season. You can find information on school’s websites, the Common Application website/portal, and from many more resources online. Having this information when you have to start writing your essays and submitting your applications will be a life-saver. 

In addition, as you are starting to actually work on applications, each week and each day, identifying and prioritizing a few goals can help ensure that you are making steady progress so that you do not have to cram in a lot of work right before the deadline. By staying consistent and organized, some of the stress associated with college applications can be avoided.

3. Change your mindset

College applications are often dreaded. However, negative thinking can often make a task even more unpleasant. Instead of fearing this process, try changing the way you see the college application process. A renewed mindset may help you minimize the stress that often accompanies the college application process.

It is important to remember that you have already done the hard part. You have spent the past three years working hard in classes, participating in activities, and doing the things that are important to you. You may have already taken the SAT or ACT. Most of the work is done. College applications are just the last step: the opportunity to showcase the passion, dedication, and interests you have already committed yourself to.

If you are feeling anxious about the college application cycle, hopefully these tips prove useful in managing your stress levels. Talking with your Dewey Smart admissions counselor can help as well. Our unique near-peer model guarantees that you will be paired with a tutor who has experienced the whole application process recently. They can share experiences and advice on how to navigate the challenges you might face–after all, they were in your shoes just a while ago

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