Welcome to Richard’s guide on surviving the most foreign of places, the most daunting of tasks, and the squirmiest of situations!

This week, I’ll give you a little guide on how to survive the impending college application season.

Back when I was in high school (about two months ago), I applied to colleges. I saw a whole bunch of articles that reminded me to “Start early!” and to “Be yourself!” in essays. And I’m sure you have already, or will soon, read many such helpful, if repetitive, articles. But this survival guide isn’t to help you write your essays. I’ll let you in on the secrets of actually surviving this stressful time in your life. If I can survive applying to 22 colleges, you can too.

1. Straighten out your priorities.

Make a list of what you need to do first. The order doesn’t necessarily need to be in the order of the due date. For example, if I have a homework assignment due tomorrow, but it’s 2% of my grade and so easy that I can do it in the morning, I’d put it to the side while I work on my application to Brown due in three weeks. Balance the amount of effort you want to put into a project and its due date and prioritize them!

2. Sometimes, the combination of your 34 AP classes, 283 extracurricular commitments, and 22 college applications will leave you no choice but to pull an all-nighter.

You’re young. You’ll be okay. Don’t do it all the time, but if things must get done, get ‘er done.

3. Socialize often.

People need other people.

4. Find your happy place to work and happy place to relax.

My happy place to work was in my room, at my computer, with a cup of good black coffee and Spotify. Find what works best for you.

5. See the big picture.

Will the fact that you’ve spent four hours on figuring out the perfect synonym for “beautiful” affect your overall chances of getting into that college? Probably not. Will the fact that because you spent four hours on finding the perfect synonym for “beautiful” you forgot to proofread the rest of your essay and thus put “Harvard is most splendid” on your Yale application affect your overall chances of getting into that college? Probably. Check out this wonderful article by Jasmine on the three biggest mistakes of college essays.

6. See the even bigger picture.

When you’re too stressed about something, drop whatever you’re doing. Get your favorite playlist, walk outside, sit down on the ground (out of the way of traffic of course), look at the stars (do something similar if it’s during the day, or if you just can’t see them), and think about the fact that you are one person in billions and billions and billions of people that were, are, and will be on this planet; that the chances of the perfect composition of particles and atoms and cells that make you who you are were infinitesimally small, almost impossible, yet you managed to exist; that millions of students are experiencing exactly what you are experiencing. Or think about whatever that gives you chills.

Chances are that everything actually will be okay, but when you’re going through the first semester of your senior year, that kind of advice may not be very helpful and is probably from someone who has already triumphed through the stress of college applications. But, sometimes it is reassuring to hear that,

“Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.”

–Paulo Coelho, or Gabi Peralez, or John Lennon, or Richard Peay (Depending on who you ask)

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  1. Pingback: The do’s and don’ts of college confidential | The Monty Sponge 20 Mar, 2015

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