How to Survive College Applications


By Drew Wesley

College. It seems to be all anyone can talk about this year. A good ninety-five percent of my conversations with new people go something along the lines of this:

New person: Oh, you’re a senior? Where are you applying to college?

Me: [insert list of schools here]

New person: Have you finished any of those applications? What are you planning on majoring in? What about financial aid? Scholarships? Acceptance rates? ACT scores? Essays? Housing applications? Deadlines? Early Action? Regular Decision?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind discussing college at all. Knowing that this time next year I’ll be sitting in a dorm room, on a quad, or in a college seminar excites me beyond belief. Before any of that, though, I have to get through the arduous process of college applications. As daunting as college applications can be, they don’t always have to be nervous wreck-inducing or panic attack-causing (even though it’s perfectly normal to feel that way sometimes). Here are some tips on college applications and how to survive them:

Tip #1: Research Schools

If you’re a senior, you probably already have a few schools in mind you know you’d like to attend. Hopefully you’ve started the applications for these schools already, but if not, don’t fret! Okay, maybe fret a little, but just enough to get yourself motivated. Ask yourself: “What am I interested in?” Once you have a general idea about the answer to this question, use sites like to find colleges or universities that offer programs in that field of study. Don’t know what you’d like to do in college? Don’t worry, there are plenty of schools that allow you to apply undecided.

Tip #2: Know the Deadlines (or create your own)

Deadlines are crucial when it comes to applying to college. Make a list of all the schools you’re applying to and their deadlines for applications, financial aid, and housing. Yes, those three are often all different, which adds to the confusion. For example, the University of Texas at Austin’s Regular Decision application deadline (including scholarships) is December 1, but their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is not due until March 15 of the following year.

It is important to remember that although it may seem tempting to procrastinate until the last night of November to submit your UT Austin application, you should really get it in as early as possible. You want to make sure that colleges have received your test scores, transcripts, and resumé before the deadline, and the best way to do that is to send in everything as soon as it’s ready.

Tip #3: Send Your Scores

Colleges require your standardized test scores to be sent directly to them through either College Board or the ACT Student Official Website. As soon as you have received the scores you’re comfortable with, don’t forget to go online and select the colleges you’re applying to so the admissions offices can get a copy of your score reports. This applies to SAT, ACT, and AP scores.

Additionally, colleges also require an official copy of your high school transcript to be either mailed to their admissions office or, in some cases, uploaded online. Don’t forget to request an official transcript from the school registrar’s office at least two weeks in advance to ensure everything arrives on time.

Tip #4: Breathe and Enjoy Senior Year

If you’re stressed about applications, take a second to remind yourself that you will get into college. As awful as the process seems now, it’ll all pay off soon. Understand that the first semester of senior year may be more stressful and less exciting than you expected it to be because of college applications, but that once you’re finished and receive your acceptance letter(s), things will get so much brighter.