Dealing with the Stress of College Applications

Learn how to minimize the stress involved in the college-application process.
teenager looking at tablet in library

Stressed about choosing the right college and getting in? You're not alone. Anyone who's been through this process knows how much stress and anxiety comes with it.

"What stresses me most about college is the decision. I want to apply to so many schools. I'm really undecided." - Senior, Monticello High School

This process is inherently stressful and you probably won't be able to avoid all of it, but here are a few tips to help you get through it as smoothly as possible:

More: Applying to College

Become a maniac for organization.

It sounds like an overused cliche, but if you're organized about what you have to do, when you have to do it, and what you need to do to get it done, you're halfway to success.

Trust your gut.

Advice from your parents. Suggestions from books. Your friends' opinions. The amount of information you absorb while choosing and applying to college is overwhelming and sometimes conflicting. Keep an open mind, listen to feedback, but remember to trust your own gut feelings and reactions to everything from where you should apply to what you write your essays about.

Be flexible.

Rarely do things turn out exactly as you planned, and if you're unprepared for change you'll be more stressed than if you expect some of it from the start. Your first choice school may turn out not to have a great major in a field that's caught your interest halfway through the application process and you might need to find another number-one choice. Don't beat yourself up for being "wrong." Instead, give yourself credit for learning more about your interests.

More: The College Admission Quiz: What Are Colleges Looking For?

Take breaks.

Day after day of college stuff can get overbearing. Give yourself a break once in a while, do something you really enjoy and that has nothing to do with college, and air out your mind. You'll feel better and work more effectively afterwards.

Know when to stop.

You should do your best on everything from researching schools to working on your essays, but there is such a thing as doing too much. If you're researching the hundredth school or working on your fiftieth draft of revisions, stop and think about whether you're going too far and whether what you have isn't good enough already.

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