Feeling alone as you swim through the terrifying waters known as the college admission process? Have no fear! We have several seniors blogging about ups, downs, and random in-betweens of their college process for the next 12 months (from June 2015 to June 2016!). Sit back, relax, and get that “OMG I totally get you, bro” feeling. Information for how to contact a blogger will be at the bottom of his/her posts.
I had it all planned out. I was going to wake up the next morning at the earliest time I could, pull my laptop closer towards me, and (blurry eyed) log onto the Common App. I was going to groggily pick the colleges I was going to apply to. I was going to start the beginning of the rest of my life. I planned for it to all unfold the next day. Little did I know, it would unfold that very same day. I’m guessing to keep us on our toes, the Common App people released the application early. Like super early. Like 7 p.m. on July 31st early. I freaked out, my friends freaked out, and the appblr community almost imploded. It was madness. But nevertheless, for four hours after I finally accepted that the Common App was open early, I sat on my computer and discovered the (not-so) wondrous land of college applications.
Almost immediately, I noticed how calm I was about the whole thing. Yes, I was freaked out about the application open early, but when I was actually filling it out, I was pretty okay. I wasn’t trembling or sweating. I just went through the basic information sections like it was another first day of school packet (having just finished my first week of school I’m pretty familiar with them). I’m glad I was calm. I’m glad that for a moment, before I had to get to the essays and all the hard stuff, I could see the Common App and something tedious but not scary. And I hope that anyone else reading this will try and do the same thing. Don’t see the Common Application as the one door through which the rest of your life begins. See it as another form to fill out with information you already know. I promise it will make the whole application process easier, at least it has for me.
Compared to my other college applications, I’ve found the Common App to be a lot easier. The design of the pages are a lot more visually pleasing and it’s simpler to get to the pages you’re trying to get to. I appreciate that. I find myself wandering onto the site randomly just to go see what other information I can learn just from digging. But the ease at which I can apply to schools on the Common App makes it harder to remember other applications. Some days I struggle to recollect which state schools I’m applying to because in Florida each state school has its own application with its own system making it harder to keep track of what is in and what isn’t and in what school. But I’ve been taking steps to change my confusion and try to lessen my tendency to procrastinate.
This summer I realized that the way I studied and went through the school year was broken and I had to fix it. I realized that the way I went along doing my homework and remembering events (which was at the last minute) wouldn’t work for college applications or college life. It wasn’t just me anymore. My guidance counselor and my teachers all had to be a part of my college application process or else the applications wouldn’t get completed. And I couldn’t push them to do something for me last minute. So this year, I buckled down and got serious with my work.
The first thing I did was buy a planner. My school gives one out at the beginning of the year for free, but it’s ugly and I knew that if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t use it. So I bought a cute one for only $4 at Walmart. Then I created a color coding system with highlighters, so that on the monthly view pages I would easily be able to see when I had events for school or personal outings with friends or college applications due. School assignments are written in black ink, important dates in red ink, personal events highlighted in orange, special events highlighted in yellow, school events highlighted in green, and extracurriculars highlighted in blue. As a visual learner, I look forward to adding new events in my planner every afternoon when I get home just to see how many colors I can fill up my calendar with. So far, it’s been keeping me on schedule so look forward to progress reports later on.
Another large part of my new planner is the “college goals” sticky notes. I decided that every week I should create a list of things that I would like to accomplish for the week in terms of college applications. Adding checkboxes instantly makes me want to complete the tasks just to have the satisfaction of ticking off the little boxes. This week my goals are to ask the teachers I want letters of recommendations from if they would like to write a letter for me, and finishing the ‘Education’ section of the Common App with the updated class information that came out the first week of school. Next week I’m hoping to have a sit-down meeting with my guidance counselor. It breaks down the beast-like application to little chunks and makes it easier to overcome. I’m hoping that this will keep me from sitting up on New Year’s Eve with that silly top hat writing supplements.
I realize I sound really optimistic about my ability to keep organized and turn in the Common App on time when school isn’t even fully in session, but I’m hoping that keeping a positive attitude and telling the internet what I’m doing, will make me hold myself accountable for what I’ve said so I don’t let you guys down. With the Common App finally something that is in my life and not something coming, I’m going to need every push I can get this year to put out my best work. All I can do now is hope.