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Image from Pexels

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 2014 to June 2015!). 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 planned out as precisely as one plans a prom-posal. Others might simply walk up to their favorite teacher and ask for a recommendation, but not I. I was going to print my request on fancy paper, stick it in an envelope with my resume, and hand deliver it to both my potential recommenders. I might’ve even thought about sending a flower basket afterward. I’ve always felt awkward asking for recommendations, so I wanted these — the ones that would determine the rest of my life* — to be perfect.

Things did not go according to plan. I wanted to send off my requests in August, but I was swamped with work. By September, I was drowning in it. Recommendation requests were still at the back of my mind, and I promised myself that I’d get to them “eventually.” Eventually never came. Instead, my teacher asked me “Do you want me to do your recommendation?” one day in passing. I was grateful, though even now I still feel compelled to send a request letter and a flower basket (though I’ll probably compromise with chocolate or a personalized gift. After all, flowers aren’t very useful, but chocolate always is.)

My advice: Don’t put recommendation requests off, no matter how daunting the task seems. I personally psyched myself out by overcomplicating my task. If you want to type a letter but you don’t know where to start, simply talk about how you chose the school(s) on your shortlist, your potential college major, and your plans for life after college. Don’t make it too long, and remember that this isn’t your resume. If you don’t want to write a letter (which is also a respectable option), approach your teacher politely and simply ask. No matter what you do, always ask for a positive recommendation and give your recommender at least two weeks to write it. The earlier you ask, the better. If your teacher agrees, then send them your resume, transcript, and any additional materials they ask for.

“Resume?” you’re asking. “I’ve only ever held one job in my life. I’m just a high school senior!”

It’s okay. I’m in the same place. That’s why you have to tailor your resume to fit your needs. If you’re looking for advice on how, check out this article. I would also recommend making a master resume to keep next to you while filling out college and scholarship applications. Mine has academic information (standardized testing scores and dates, my senior course load, GPA, rank, etc.) and extracurricular information (clubs of which I’m a member, how many hours a week I spend in each club, how many years I’ve been in each club, etc.). Customize it for your needs. You might not need every detail for your applications, but having all your information in one place will make it easier pick out the important bits based on the application you’re completing.

The recommendation and resume struggles are but two minor episodes in my senior year. Mark Twain expresses my feelings perfectly: I’m trying not to let my schooling interfere with my future education. It’s barely November and I’m already falling into the senior slump. Staring at my school work in vague anguish just isn’t as fun as it used to be. On the serious side, no matter how much work you have to absolutely get finished by midnight tonight, don’t forget to have fun and to relax every once in a while. Homecoming is this weekend, and I was seriously thinking about staying home and studying or working on college applications instead. Actually, the thought still sounds pretty tempting. Luckily, my friends and family often remind me that this is my last year of high school and I shouldn’t just work it away. I have to make time for fun too. I can see you shaking your head, and I really do understand. You want money for college. You want to get into college. You can’t do that if you’re dancing the night away with your friends, making memories and savoring the time you all have left together. But time is ticking in both respects. When else will you ever have all of your high school friends in the same place besides now? Also, if you don’t take breaks, you’ll burn yourself out.

Which brings me to the two things seniors (and students in general) often forget to do: eat and sleep. It saddens me when my friends speak of getting only three hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation is no fun, not to mention how terrible it is for you in the long run. Meals aren’t optional, but don’t work and eat. Dinner should be a respite from work. Also, don’t work and snack. Five pieces of double caramel popcorn easily turn into a whole bag. Trust me.

Next week is going to be long. I plan on applying early decision but I’m still perfecting my essays. A thousand and one scholarships have decided to set their due dates for November first. Homecoming is this weekend and I have to perform in a concert next week. There’s enough going on to melt one’s brain, but it’s okay. I’m going to curl up with a novel for a little bit. You should too.

*not really. We’ll all be okay in the end guys. Don’t worry.

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