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Commentary: Don’t get overstressed from the college application process

If you ask a senior in high school about the college application process, you are likely to receive an eye roll or two. This is not because the up-and-coming generation is particularly rude, but rather the stress of what lies ahead can be overwhelming. Seniors are bombarded by reminders of rising costs of higher education, the risks of leaving home and the burdens of concluding a major chapter in their lives – high school. Let’s not forget the unending questions about the next educational step asked by family members, friends and even the occasional stranger. Who can blame them for being a bit frazzled?

The college application process is often thought to begin and end with the application itself. This idea, as any senior will share, is ludicrous. Students can lose themselves in hours of research in an attempt to find what college is the right fit for them. This precious time can be rendered useless in a matter of moments once the student realizes all of the options available to them. The time spent doing “homework” to prepare for the application process encompasses several components that can be frequently overlooked. Campus visits, maintaining a high GPA and managing time to include extracurricular activities are just some of the crucial aspects involved in the college search. Standardized tests are another nightmare, pressuring juniors and seniors alike to let a mere test be a summation of all they have learned throughout their years of education.

Then, of course, there is the potentially life-altering choice to make: the major. What will you do with the rest of your life? Luckily, several colleges have adapted programs for “undecided” students, allowing them to experience different fields until the conclusion of their sophomore year. Still, students are often hassled about majors and may make impulsive decisions to ward off anyone who might ask. These factors of the application process can be taxing on a teen faced with not only the duties of their senior year, but also decisions that may impact their entire lives.

In an attempt to keep up with the various aspects of the application process, it is easy to get caught up in the chaos.

Reflecting on her own experiences, Mount St. Mary senior Annamaria Monti has a few tips for her fellow college applicants: “Try not to stress. I know that sounds impossible, but seniors just have to sometimes take a deep breath and try to relax as much as possible. And once everything is sent in, all the stress is gone and (students) can enjoy senior year.”

Annamaria wants to remind students that “the most important part of this process is making sure to pay attention to deadlines.”

Keeping track of due dates and maintaining sanity seem easy enough, but the application process often can take a toll on even the most prepared students. There are several other ways to avoid becoming too frantic during this time, all of which are practical methods using resources available to any senior. Visiting guidance counselors offers students various opportunities, from assistance in the application to scholarship connections. The more positive the relationship with the counselor, the more constructive his or her role will be in the student’s application process, which can prove useful when the time comes for extra letters of recommendation. Completing what can be finished as soon as possible will allow for more time to enjoy the last year of high school as well as place students in a primary position for scholarships and acceptance.

In the end, a student’s acceptance won’t depend on whether or not they are worrying about it eight hours out of the day. In fact, too much worrying may distract from focusing on academics and activities, which could alter a college’s decision. By taking the time to unwind after completing the application process, seniors can reduce stress and focus on what’s to come. After all, there are only a few more months left in high school, so it would be smart to enjoy them before they’re washed away by the busy summer ahead.

“Once this is all over, we can all have a fun and memorable last year of high school,” Annamaria said.

Hopefully, the class of 2015 can do exactly that.

Katie Czerwinski is a senior at Cardinal O’Hara High School.