As August quickly approaches and college move-in notifications pour in, I’ve been reflecting on my last year of high school and the college application process. About a year ago, my anxious self had little to no idea of the path I wanted to take in college. I thought I needed to create the “perfect” application to make myself appear more desirable to the 14 universities on my list.
Looking back now, I know that my initial assumptions about the process were wrong. I thought I needed to focus on what I thought the schools wanted to see from me. Luckily, I quickly came to understand that what’s actually most important is focusing on whether or not a school is a good fit for me. Does this school allow me to pursue both my academic and extracurricular interests? Do I feel comfortable on this campus? Do I feel inspired? My supplemental essays sounded exponentially more authentic when I genuinely had an interest in spending the next four years in that school’s environment. Writing my “Why here?” essay ended up being pretty easy because of how enthusiastic I was about the school.
It’s common to get caught up in the pressures and expectations surrounding the college process. I remember being told to treat the process as my own personal journey. Although I still had a confused sense of what I wanted my future to look like, the overall experience let me learn things about myself along the way. I applied Early Action to the school I was most excited about, as well as others I was truly interested in. After four suspenseful months awaiting a decision, I was ecstatic to find out I was accepted to my “dream” school.
Since I’ve always been a visual learner, campus visits played a big role in narrowing down my options. Although COVID-19 has prevented many current juniors from experiencing in-person tours, there are thankfully many other ways to “get a vibe” from a university. This includes participating in online tours, following colleges’ social media pages, watching student YouTube vlogs, or chatting with current students. College students enjoy sharing their personal takes on the ins and outs of campus life, and tend to reveal realistic portrayals of the school.
Although navigating the admissions process can be stressful, especially given the uncertainties of the coming school year, remember to stay motivated, be honest with yourself, and have fun with the process.