I’m going to preface this blog with the truth: applying to college sucks. You just want to enjoy your senior year, your last year with people you’ve probably grown up alongside, but all of the sudden you’re faced with a mountain of essays and hoops to jump through, on top of your regular schoolwork. There’s no way to sugarcoat that, so I won’t.

But there is a way to manage it all, and it’s one of the most valuable things you can take away from the process. In college and in life, you’re going to be faced with periods of time where you simply have to grind, even (and especially) when you don’t want to. Your end goal in these times, and specifically with college apps, is to leave it all with your head held high and no regrets. So I’m going to plot out for you my tips for how I did so, and maybe more valuably, how I could’ve done so better.

  1. Be authentic (yes, I know you’ve heard this one a lot). This is one of the hardest things about applying and writing essays, even though it should probably be the easiest. Personally, I spent so much time overthinking every little thing that I almost lost track not only of why I was applying to the schools that I was, but who I Often, the harder you painstakingly try to think through everything you write about, the less genuine it comes across, and genuineness is key to a college wanting you.
  2. Set goals and deadlines for yourself besides the ones given to you. When you stop thinking of the school’s deadlines as your deadline, and instead divide up the work and set mini-deadlines for yourself, everything becomes less stressful.
  3. Take a personal day once in a while. If you feel you’ve been reasonably productive lately, take a day to hang out with friends, travel somewhere, watch TV all day, or anything else to get your mind off everything! The process is obviously months long, and it’s just not sustainable to stress over it 24/7 for that whole time. You deserve a break!
  4. Interviewers for colleges just want to get to know you. The schools have your resume and all your writing, so don’t spend this time trying to drop names and terms about everything you’ve done (unless they ask specifically). Instead, just try to prove to them why you’re a good person that other students would want in their classes and around campus.
  5. Lastly, think about the light at the end of the tunnel. Second semester of senior year was honestly some of the most fun I had in all of high school. With so little time left, it’s obviously bittersweet, but at my high school at least it brought everyone so close, and I had such a great time with even more people than I ever had before.

Take a breath. You’ll make it through. Don’t let it consume you, and if you do your best, you really can’t have any regrets. I wish you so much luck—I believe in you!

Derek Jones

Derek Jones

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Los Gatos, California PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @dmannjones On campus I have conducted environmental engineering research on water distillation methods, and you can currently find me serving as Vice President of my social fraternity and playing on the club volleyball team.