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It’s here. It’s the thing you’ve worked so hard the past three years of high school for. You’re low-key freaking out. Hakuna Matata! I asked some college students, all of which are attending different universities across the nation, what some of their regrets were with regard to the college application process and have compiled their tips along with some of my own advice!

Get a Reasonable Start

As daunting as the college application process may seem, it needs to get done at some point. Going into my senior year of high school, I already had a good idea of where I would be applying, so I left all my applications untouched until about two weeks prior to the deadline. I thought I was panic-stricken, but I knew of those who pushed them to as far back as the night before they were due and complained through the wee hours of the night. Trust me, it was not a pretty sight or experience.

Save yourself some hairs and avoid, AT ALL COSTS, burning the midnight oil attempting to condense some eighteen years of your life in a matter of hours. Your mind will be running around trying to multitask and you’ll just lose focus and quality on your applications. It is simply not worth it. You can think about college as early as your freshman year of high school, but as far as the actual process during your senior year goes, give yourself at least two to three weeks before the deadline. Compiling all that is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious about you will take some time.

Studying Abroad for Your Undergraduate Career

If you have any interest in attending any institutions outside of the United States, such as the University of Oxford, look into them as soon as possible as many of their deadlines fall in October and require exams completely different from those of institutions in the States.

Letters of Recommendation

When it comes to applying for scholarships and to private universities, it’s always awkward for students to request letters of recommendations from teachers they’ve had class with, but haven’t had a conversation with them that extended farther than clarification on an assignment. More often than not, these letters come out sounding super generic and show colleges that you are just satisfying the application requirements, but lack true “witnesses” of your character and overall development and potential.

When you get the chance, the earlier the better, get to know your teachers and learn as much as you can from them. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had teachers that actually cared for their students and have gained much insight beyond that of the classroom. Don’t be so formal. Teachers are human beings, just as much as you are and with that mindset, you will put yourself in a better position down the road, both college and life.

Peer and Teacher Editors

When you’ve written your essays and short answers and have read them over a bajillion times. It’s perfect. Of course YOU think it’s perfect! You’re the one who wrote it! Instead of paying for those college admissions essay reading services, take advantage of those who know your academic and social self the best! Sure, you might feel, to some extent, embarrassed or judged by what you have written. However, honestly speaking, both sources will provide different perspectives on your application that is all for your benefit. They can better identify what sounds genuine and sets you apart and what sounds like all talk. Did I mention this process is free?

Spreadsheet Checklist

Essays and and letters of recommendation are due next week. SAT and ACT scores need to be submitted by January. Oh yeah, don’t forget the ten payments ranging from fifty-five to eighty dollars you need to get in. Also, your art supplement needs to be at this facility by this November 15th at 3:00PM. You get the point. Deadlines can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to the college applications. Every college has different parts and different due dates, all of which can get confusing to the point that paranoia of meeting all the deadlines settles in.

Something that saved me that my friends did not feel the need for was a spreadsheet. Having all the deadlines and statuses for each part for each college on one screen will keep you on top of things. Everything incomplete was in red and once completed, I would set it to turn green. If a part was not applicable to a certain college, that space would just be grayed out. I vividly remember the strange dance party of one I had in my room once every single applicable space was green. It’ll take you fifteen minutes tops to set it up. In the words of Shia LaBeouf, “JUST DO IT.”

As a last bit, after you submit all the things, don’t hurt yourself worrying about whether or not your decisions will work out the way you want them to. In due time, my young grasshopper. What’s done is done. All you can do now is keep up with your classes and extracurricular activities and wait. Don’t worry so much that you forget to savor the last of your compulsory education. Get some fruit snacks. Grab some friends. Turn on some Netflix. You’re going to be just peachy.

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the author

Kelly is a sophomore studying Microbial Biology and Business Administration at the superCALifragilisticexpialidocious University of California, Berkeley. Much of her free time involves Miranda Sings impressions, puns, the woods, concerts, and Netflix. Also food. Always food. Food is bae.

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