Beating the Stress of College Application Season

You know how Snapchat gives you those “one year ago today” memories? Well today my memory was a picture of my computer screen with the words “Abby, you’re an Illini!” front and center. For those of you who have just seen the same screen that I did one year ago, congratulations! You are on your way to joining the Illini family, and it’s a great family to be a part of. But if you still have to apply, or are still working on your applications to a few other schools from your list, don’t stress! Here are a couple of tips to help you get through the end of college application season and beat the stress that comes along with it:

Set a limit on college talk.

As a senior in high school, you probably hear the question “so where are you looking at going to college?” at least once a day. College talk is everywhere around this time of year. Relatives, friends, and teachers alike all want to know where you’re applying and what your “top choice” at this point is. Your friends will probably send you random late-night texts asking you to proofread their essays, and your parents might be checking up on you frequently throughout the process. There’s no way to avoid any of this, but there is a way you can limit it.

Last year, we set a policy in my house that banned college talk at certain times. For example, when friends came over on Halloween (and these were the kind of friends that wanted to talk about college applications literally 24/7), any discussion of college apps was strictly prohibited. Having certain times where college talk is banned can be really refreshing. I mean, if you’re going to dedicate a lot of time and effort to writing your apps, do you really want to be spending your time outside of that thinking about college even more? College apps should be an important thing in your life, but they shouldn’t be the only thing in your life.

Make a plan and stick to it.

I remember going on a family vacation a few years ago right before New Year’s. This also happened to be the year that my older brother was applying to colleges, and he was writing his application essays on the deck of a cruise ship. The moral of the story is: don’t leave your applications until the last minute. I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s true. You don’t want to be cramming to finish entire essays instead of spending time relaxing or hanging out with friends and family, especially during the holiday season. Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them! Work through your application in small chunks so that the workload seems much more manageable. Sacrificing your holiday plans to finish applications is never a good move, so being proactive and getting your applications done early is key!

Don’t stress about making things perfect.

One of the biggest stress factors in applying to college is that looming fear that your application might not make the cut. I’ve known people who have spent countless hours simply obsessing and worrying about whether they will make it into the college of their dreams. But the truth is that no college is perfect, and your application does not need to be perfect either. Just show the application readers who you are. Express your interests and your passions; just be your genuine self, and that’ll show through. If you do this, you’ll end up at a school that’s the right fit for you, I promise. Don’t get so caught up in planning your future that you forget to live in the present. Spend time relaxing this holiday season and know that if you did the best you could on your applications, it will all have been worth it at the end of the day.


Class of 2023
I'm a Civil and Environmental Engineering major in the Grainger College of Engineering, and I hope to one day work to lessen society's impact on the environment. I am a major nerd, have a passion for all things outdoors, and love exploring all the different opportunities that the University of Illinois has to offer!

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