By Becca Rawiszer ’17
Dear stressed out seniors,
All of you have probably had a college-induced panic attack once in your high school career. We’ve all been there. We’ve all crammed for that ACT or SAT and tried to maintain a seemingly unattainable GPA. A year from now, however, you’ll most likely wonder why you stressed so much and wish you spent more time living it up with your friends at Staples. But enough with hypotheticals. You can avoid that regret by changing the college process from being a stressful experience to an exciting one.
My biggest piece of advice is to take a deep breath and calm down, because the college process doesn’t have to be anxiety inducing. A lot of students tend to become fixated on one school. They start to believe that if they don’t get accepted, they won’t be happy or successful life. While I hate to burst your bubble, there is no such thing as the “perfect school.”
Many students mistakenly make their college decisions based solely on the reputation of the schools. It seems like Staples students have this mentality that if the college is not Ivy League or a traditionally popular school among past Staples students, then it isn’t worth considering. However, such close-mindedness can be an impediment to the college process, because there are so many other amazing schools that could be the perfect fit. The most important aspect in choosing a school is if it is a good fit for the student applying.
In order to find schools that are a good fit, the first step is figuring out school characteristics that are most important to you. Don’t just consider academics; keep geography, population size and social scene in mind, too. As a student who has already applied to schools and is waiting to hear back, I guarantee that multiple schools have exactly what you’re looking for.
Changing your mentality on how the college process works is extremely important. Your goal shouldn’t be to tell colleges what you think they want to hear, but you should focus on showing them who you actually are and how you fit into their unique school. Yes, in the application process your acceptance is in their hands, but in a couple months the ball will be in your court.
Receiving decisions from colleges will be a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Maybe you’ll get into all of your schools, and maybe you won’t. But no matter what the results are, these decisions don’t represent who you are as a person or a scholar. The world will continue to spin. I believe that you’re meant to go to the school you end up at, and you will be happy where you end up.
Kevin McMullin, founder of Collegewise—a national college counseling company—discussed in a blog post that he noticed that families who encouraged their kids to attend the right colleges, prestigious or not, and have viewed this process as an exciting time, “have actually found the closest thing to a magic college formula.” There you have it; the college process doesn’t have to be stressful and can be so much more enjoyable if you’re in a positive mindset.
There’s a reason people say college is the best time of your life. So be excited about your future instead of stressed.