Coping with Application Seasonitis

Application season is well underway. For university-bound students, this time of year brings its fair share of stress, often characterized by sleepless nights complete with visons of essay topics scrolling through overexerted minds as brain synapses blink like Christmas lights.

Application seasonitis can manifest itself in any number of ways: perpetual tiredness, extreme indecision, hatred of any 3 letter acronym variation on the letters S, A, T (or sometimes C), endless conversations with distant relatives explaining that UPenn is in fact part of the Ivy League, which actually is a sports league and not the sole predictor of your future success. Does this sound like you? If so, read on.

While I have no doubt that a significant portion of your social media time is now dedicated to searches on topics ranging from "successful college essays" to "what SAT score do I need to get into (insert name of) university/college", and while these are certainly important topics, I thought it best to address one often overlooked but incredibly important facet of the entire college process:

Your Sanity.

So instead of giving essay writing tips and breaking down different schools and programs in this post, I've chosen to address what I think we should all be focusing on right now through a set of tips:

  1. Sleep. You need it. Really though. Like scientifically.
  2. Take a full day off from thinking about college. Put aside your applications. Ignore your SAT book. Go outside and do something. Exercise. Watch a movie. I promise the one day off will not make or break anything (unless it's the day before your deadline and you haven't prepared anything yet, in which case stop slacking off and get going already).
  3. Be confident in yourself. If you have worked hard, prepared well, and put the effort into it, you will go far.
  4. Think about how you're measuring success. Don't base it around just one single school and one single name. The majority of students don't get into their "dream" schools, which makes sense since most of those students can't even explain why it's their dream school outside of "it's the perfect location, it's got a great name, and (insert name of) wealthy and famous person went there".
  5. Know that if you work hard and have a positive attitude (yes, I know that sounds cliché, but it's true) you'll be happy almost anywhere you go, provided your school list has been carefully selected around schools you think might be a good fit rather than schools that are just based on ranking.
  6. Be optimistic!! See point 5. Optimism doesn't mean believing you'll get in everywhere. Optimism means believing that everything will be all right – actually, great - no matter where you land.
  7. Ask for help if you need it. Use any and all resources available to you if you're feeling overwhelmed. Teachers, counselors, friends, family.
  8. Remember that no door is ever fully closed. If you don't get in somewhere you love, you can transfer. You can take a GAP year and reapply. The options are infinite. Try not to get boxed into the mentality a “we regret to inform you” email rather than a “congratulations!” email is the end of something. It's not.