It's that time of year again when the air thickens, tensions rise, and deadlines approach -- college application season. There's no denying the amount of stress present at this point in your life, whether you've been there, done that or are currently right in the thick of it. Sometimes it's hard to listen to the advice of others when you are just trying to get it over with. Remembering where I was a year ago today, I wish I would've slowed down, paused and listened, and realized that everything works out.
Own what you've got.
It's perfectly acceptable that you didn't spend three summers volunteering at an orphanage in Africa. Play up your strengths. Although it's hard not to compare yourself to your peers, this isn't the time for it.
The earlier the better.
Apply early -- early action, early decision, or as early as the school will accept your application. Getting your applications and essays off your plate as quickly as possible will be the biggest weight off of your shoulders and allows you to go all in senior year.
Your SAT/ACT scores do not define you.
No number will ever determine your worth academically, socially, or otherwise. Colleges will recognize the many other facets of your application before zeroing in on a few digits. Not a good test taker? Take a deep breath, that's a rare quality.
You do not have to be cookie-cutter.
Not everyone can be the president of student government, varsity soccer captain, and daily volunteer at the hospital. Own what you have -- the value lies within activities you cherished, not what you think colleges will esteem.
You don't need to apply to 5,832 schools.
Apply to places where you can see yourself on a day-to-day basis, the good days and the bad ones, too. Take a couple of leaps and maintain a few safe bets, but make sure you can realistically picture yourself at each of your options.
You'll be happy at more than one place.
Look at yourself now and remember all the places you've ever experienced joy! That is tangible at multiple universities, as hard as it is to recognize. Tunnel vision is hard to avoid, but don't forget to prioritize multiple schools.
Some people will get into schools, and you'll have no idea how it happened. It's a roulette.
And you can't fault them for it, as much as you want to.
Just because other people are getting accepted doesn't mean you're a reject.
There's something incredibly noble about celebrating with other people. Your time will come, as universities send out letters at different rates.
Don't worry what others believe to be your school's reputation.
It doesn't matter once you're loving life there. There's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if it's not an ivy-league or "top-tier" university, so long as you're happy. After all, you're the one going to school there, not your nosy friend or overbearing aunt.
The Common Application is your best friend, although it feels like your worst enemy.
All your demographic information organized in one place? That's what I call a one-stop shop. You dislike it because the process is brutal, not for the website that facilitates it.
It's okay to take your time with your decision.
It's not a race to see who can commit to a school first. This is a big decision, and it's between you and your family and close friends. Slow down, you'll know when you know.
The waiting game will eventually be worth it.
The days will soon be over of staring at the minute hand on the clock until midnight on Dec. 15. Try not to let the waiting ruin the time you still have left in high school -- you'll know soon enough.
Celebrate internally. You're an all star.
Give yourself a high five, pat on the back, and an ice cream cone. Even the "little" acceptances are a huge deal. You're going to college!
Accept your rejections.
Pick up your rejection letter, look at it, say "Okay," and set it aside as to never look at it again. If it's not meant to be, it won't be. You have bigger fish to fry now.
In the end, just do what feels right.
As phony as it seems, you will know.
You've done everything you can do.
Now go enjoy senior year.