The College Application Survival Kit

How to reduce senior year stress


Table and banner at a college admissions presentation held at Abington High School 2015.

Caroline Bradbury, Staff Writer

If you’re a junior or a senior, I can probably guess what you are thinking right now.  You are most likely spending your time filling out applications, looking for scholarships, or planning college days to visit the school of your dreams. While all of this is exciting, it can be extremely stressful as well. The cost of applying to college alone is enough to wipe out a student’s motivation, but don’t fret. There are plenty of things you can do to take your mind off the taxing application process, so you can make your last high school years memorable.

If you are not involved in a sport or club already, you should definitely think about joining one, especially if you are feeling the pressure of choosing a school. Sitting at home all day after school, before you go to work or do homework, will add to your stress, and makes for an unhealthy mindset. Having a club or sport to let out your energy will give you a break from the stress and might even help you decide, based on your passions, which school to choose. It will also give you the opportunity to talk about the application process with people who are going through the same thing, which you will probably find comforting.

Having a fun social life, that doesn’t make you afraid of the future, should be a top priority.

— Caroline Bradbury

If all else fails, turn to music. Silence is usually just an excuse to worry about college, and having a great playlist can motivate you to get work done, or simply empower you to think positively. Spotify has great music for studying or even meditating. You can choose from all types of music from “pump up” to peaceful instrumentals.

Regardless of the type of music you fancy, it’s very important to take time to listen and calm your mind down. This may even lead to you becoming passionate about a certain band or artist, which definitely can take your mind off of this stressful time. So many people use music as an escape, but it can also motivate you to conquer the world.

It’s also important to have events to look forward to. Instead of hanging out in your friends’ living rooms like you usually do, get a group together and do something different. You have to remember that even though you are almost an adult,  your time to be a teenager is still here.

There are so many exciting things to do in or around the city of Boston, and it’s only a short train ride away. You could go see a play, go shopping on Newbury St., or go to a concert at the House of Blues. If you want to stay local, plan a game night or drive around singing along with friends in the car. Anything is better than watching movies or having everyone sit on their phones the entire time. Having fun events to look forward to really takes the stress out of your year and will motivate you to be successful in school.

Posters outside the AHS Guidance Office
GWG Staff
Posters outside the AHS Guidance Office

It’s also helpful if you step out of your comfort zone and hang out with new friends. Your original friend group may get stuck talking about what schools they are applying to; it might be beneficial to take a break from that conversation and talk to people that won’t stress you out.  It’s extremely important to put yourself and your positive mentality first.  Having a fun social life, that doesn’t make you afraid of the future, should be a top priority.

The most important aspect of this process is to remember that getting a rejection is not the end of the world. Getting rejected does not mean you are not good enough, it means that thousands of people apply to certain colleges every year, and only a handful of those applicants can be accepted even if they are all equivalent in the school’s eyes. Knowing this alleviates a lot of stress and makes it easier to have a clear mental space. There is a school for everyone and a spot for everyone that wants to get a higher education, so don’t waste time stressing over failure. It simply won’t happen.

If you don’t know what you want to major in, that’s okay. There is a major for everyone and a path for everyone.  You have to be patient and open yourself up to all possibilities; your future will become clear to you.

So don’t spend all of your time worrying about the future, live in the present. Even though high school might not be your favorite experience, you only get to experience it once. One day you’ll look back and wish you spent less time stressing and more time living. So put down your SAT prep books; stop refreshing your email looking for admissions letters, and start taking some time for yourself. Graduation will be here before you know it, and so will your bright future.