True confessions of a college applicant

Emily Otten, Online Director

I’ve been worrying about college and my post-secondary education for far too long. I can trace it back to 7th grade when all of my other peers were suddenly interested in “what they wanted to do when they grew up”. Before the question had been a bit of a joke, with everyone having a similar answer of veterinarian or firefighter. But all of a sudden my classmates had serious answers like a cardiologist or a biologist — real answers. My freshman year I was thrown into the world of the ACT, AP classes and anxiety of figuring out what I actually wanted to do with my life; now in the fall of my senior year I’ve been yet again thrown into a new world, but this time it’s the realm of college applications.

Through this stressful and panic-inducing process I’ve learned 3 key things.

First, no one has any clue what they’re doing. It doesn’t matter how many college application videos you’ve watched, or what advice you’ve gotten from an older sibling, there is not one person who has the college application system figured out. No one will understand how to write the perfect Common App essay, or when to send in your transcript. You just have to ask your counselors in the end, no matter how badly you want to be independent and do it on your own.

The second fact is that procrastination will get the better of you. I tried to start my college applications early in the spring last year, but didn’t end up actually getting to them until the beginning of September, now I’m just struggling my way through them trying to finish before the November 1st Early Action deadline. But everyone else has a different timeline. some people are already finished, some haven’t even started, but most are somewhere in between: almost done but not quite, hoping that the applications will eventually disappear.

The third thing I realized is that you have to spend way more money than you thought you would. Of course, I knew that colleges were expensive, just about everyone knows that, but I didn’t realize how much money it took to apply to the schools in the first place. It costs money to take the ACT, to send the ACT, to send your transcripts, to take AP tests, to send AP tests, to send in the applications and SO MUCH MORE. I haven’t even been accepted to a university yet and I’m already broke.

And yet, even though filling out college applications is stressful, expensive, and time-consuming, I can’t help but be filled with a sense of excitement. College is a whole new world of unique and exciting opportunities, and even if I have to fill out a few applications, I think it will soon all be worth it.

Data from a 2018 Report by the National Association for College Admission Coun-
seling. Shown is the percentage of surveyed colleges that felt the listed factors had
considerable weight in their admissions process. Visit to see the rest of
the data.