Following these suggestions can help you ease the stress of the college application and financing process. Remember that this is an important time, but it should also be exciting and even fun.
Many high school seniors and their families are stressed right now. Really stressed. College application deadlines are right around the corner, essays need to be written and perfected, and some students are even still deciding where to apply. Meanwhile, parents are wondering, “How are we going to pay for all this?”
If you are among these stressed out families, you are not alone. Here are some tips for reducing the stress related to this difficult time of year:
1. Make a plan. Look ahead at the calendar and work your way backwards from the college deadlines. Plan out a timeline for applications, essays, and other tasks to be completed allowing plenty of time to accomplish things before important deadlines.
2. Schedule some “college free” days. Most students and/or parents can’t help but talk about the college process at this time of year, but too much becomes overwhelming and pervasive. Set some “college free” days — maybe once or twice a week — when no one is allowed to even mention colleges or applications. This will give everyone a break from the tension and encourage conversations about other, less stressful activities.
3. Get help. If you are overwhelmed by application deadlines, get help from a college counselor. If you can’t figure out how you are going to finance college, ask an expert about financial aid, payment plans, and loan options. You don’t have to go through this process alone — seek help from an expert who helps others go through it each year and knows the landscape already.
4. Focus on what is best for you and your family. Much of the anxiety about the college process comes from the rumors and gossip that moves from student to student and from parent to parent. Try your best to steer clear of the local grapevine and instead learn about what is right for you and your family. It shouldn’t matter what everyone else is doing, only what is best for your individual situation.
5. Remember that it is going to be okay. Thousands of students make it through the college application process each year. Some students get into their first choice college; some don’t. In most situations, however, things turn out okay. Students often end up happy at the college they ultimately attend. If not, they can transfer to a place that represents a better fit for them. While everyone hopes to be happy with their initial college choices, no one needs to feel stuck in a bad situation.
Following the above suggestions can help you ease the stress of the college application and financing process. Remember that this is an important time, but it should also be exciting and even fun.
Rather than allowing yourself to be paralyzed with stress, step back and remember the big picture once in awhile — it’s a time filled with possibilities, hope, and new beginnings. Enjoy it!
Meredith Eastman is the Associate Director of College Counseling at Campus Bound, a Lexington, Mass.-based company providing college admissions counseling, financial aid advising, and test preparation. She has previously worked in college admissions and high school guidance. To learn more or to read previous articles by Ms. Eastman, visit www.campusbound.com.