Tips From: A Harried High School Senior


Kate Wolffe, Editor In Chief

I don’t know if I’m at all qualified to be giving this type of advice, but I was recently thinking of things that I needed to keep in mind when figuring this college stuff out, and, as I wrote them down, I thought: why not share these with my friends who seem just as stressed-out as I am? In the midst of all this college craziness it’s easy to forget things, and it definitely helps to have some stuff written down to maybe check off your list! I understand that it’s certainly not hard to be more situated than I am, but maybe I remembered something that you forgot. There are so many things to keep in mind at this point, I’m bound to have left stuff out, so if you have anything to add, comment!

So for all my stressed out senior brethren: hopefully this helps keep you a little saner in your College Quest:

1. Try not to get too overwhelmed

It’s scary to look at your 12 supplemental essays and want to crawl into bed and never come out. But wait! You can do this! The trick is to break it down, and set goals. Write down all that you have to do, and before you totally freak out, get your calendar out and put down small deadlines for each thing. Don’t set unrealistic goals, but don’t be too lenient either: give yourself enough time to really get it done and get it done well while also providing for some wiggle room.

2. Take care of yourself

What’s the use in applying to school if you’ll BE DEAD WHEN YOU GET YOUR ACCEPTANCE LETTER? Take time for yourself and do all of those things Elizabeth Chenok is telling you to do in her columns: get active, eat healthily, hang out with friends. Find out what helps you unwind and do it! Try to work on balancing your “me” time with everything else that you need to do.

3. Stay on top of your school work

If you don’t, it’ll pile up and hold you down. Try to figure out what is a “need to do”, “good to do”, and what’s a “want to do”. Do those things that you have to do right now first. Then work on time-sensitive stuff that it would be beneficial to get done. Lastly, get started on all that stuff you want to finish, but isn’t immediately necessary and won’t be for a little while.

4. Know when you should and shouldn’t accept help

There’s a difference between asking your parents to do some financial research for you and completely palming off your search on them. Filling out apps and writing essays is something that you need to take responsibility for, as your parents aren’t going to be at college with you to help you get stuff done! Its a scary reality, but one we all need to accept and start working on. If they want to help, give them some small but necessary stuff you don’t have time for, the big stuff is what you’ve got to do for yourself.

5. Acknowledge help when you do receive it

Those letters of rec your teachers wrote? They didn’t have to do them. Thank them for their hard work with a thank-you note or a token of appreciation (quality chocolate or something they’ll actually use); preferably both. Also, make sure to take the time to acknowledge your parents: it’s stressful for them to see you stressed out and they want to make sure you’re okay! Give them a hug and tell them that you love them: it’ll go a long way.

6. Find out scholarship deadlines: you’ll thank yourself in the long run

This is pretty self-explanatory. Many schools have scholarship deadlines around now that you aren’t automatically considered for  when you apply. Check them out on the school’s web page and make sure you’re taking advantage of all of your opportunities! If you get a sweet scholarship now, it will take a little bit of the burden off you and your parents financially.

7. Check in with the people writing your letters

They may need a reminder that they agreed to make the commitment. Don’t be naggy, just ask them how it’s going or if they have any questions or concerns. If you don’t have time to pop into their classroom, send them a quick email! They’re busy people too, and you need to put in the effort if you need them to get it done.

8. Know who YOU are and search your schools with YOU in mind

Sometimes we get caught up in other people. We think that just because our best friend goes to a certain college, it has to be the one for us. On Facebook, we see graduating classes before us having the time of their lives at their schools and immediately assume we’d also have a blast there. But you must remember who you are and what is and isn’t important to you. Do the research: don’t follow others blindly.

9. Show interest!

Go to college visits. Take a campus tour. Find the name of the local representative and ask them any questions you may have. Find out if you’re interested, and if you are, follow that interest wholeheartedly! Some colleges take stock in how often you’ve contacted them or interacted with their representatives so if you have reason, do so without embarrassment!

10. Live your life: getting into the “perfect” college isn’t the be-all end-all

All of this being said, wherever you go to college is going to be a fit for you. If you try your best and still don’t get into the “college of your dreams”, maybe that school wasn’t right for you in the first place. Take the time to enjoy your senior year: don’t hold back, and show all that love to your friends, family, and classmates, and keep in mind; this may be the only time living at your parents house and eating their food is socially acceptable, so make the most of it!