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The Growing Pains From Applying to College

Completing college applications challenges the patience and confidence of any applicant.  However, given a lack of experience, many applicants don’t expect to be tested.  Applying seems simple–fill in a few boxes, write an essay quickly and painlessly, then click “submit.”  Unfortunately, the actual experience is more complicated.  Writing an autobiography, which summarizes seventeen years of life within 500 words or less, requires focused reflection to determine the essence of an applicant’s experience – not a simple undertaking.   Meanwhile, applicants are trying to keep up with everyday extracurricular activities and AP homework, which don’t seem to be slowing down.  Applicants’ responses to the pressures vary from meeting the challenge head on to impatiently clicking “Submit” wanting to be rid of the stress as soon as possible.  I don’t recommend the latter response.

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Mustering patience to not prematurely click the “submit” button, simply to be rid of the nervousness and stress described above, can have long term benefits. Being patient can help applicants review a college essay one more time to be sure the intended message is clear. Then, in the end the applicant will know s/he did EVERYTHING possible to be as competitive as possible, and the rest will be out of his/her hands.  However, a single moment of impatience can, in the end, lead to submitting a less-than-best-effort application, giving plenty of room for “what if’s” in the future. Taking breaks and acknowledging the stress of applying to college can help applicants avoid future consequences, and find the strength to continue.  After all, taking a few extra moments just at the right time, can honor years of effort to this point in time and provide as many opportunities for future success as possible.

Applying to college is challenging.  The process can help maturing young adults validate that a hard-won acceptance can be sweeter, knowing it was earned.  Yet, these so-called life lessons are also known as “growing pains” for a reason, and may not be so fun for the applicant in the short term.