Balancing College Applications and Academics

Your schedule is busy enough. Add college applications onto that during your senior year, and you feel instantly stressed just from simply glancing at your to-do list. Instead of panicking and tackling everything all at once, follow these simple tips to balance your schedule.

Image from Student Advisor

Image from Student Advisor

1. Set time aside each day for college applications. 

Instead of worrying about not spending enough time on your applications, designate about an hour each night to work of them. An hour may not seem like a lot, but if you stick to your schedule and actually work for an hour every night, you can accomplish a lot. However, this may not work for everyone. Some people don’t operate on strict schedules such as this, which is completely understandable! If you don’t make schedules, still make sure that you at least think about college applications each night after your other work is done.

2. Prioritize your to-do list.

Looking at a huge to-do list is without a doubt overwhelming. Break your to-do list up into sections and arrange it by deadline. Though you really want to work on your college applications that are due in January, you should probably write that AP Econ paper that’s due tomorrow. Yes, college applications are important, but school is still important too.

3. Think of clear ideas before getting started.

You may feel the need to dive right into all of your college essays, but getting started with no general idea of what you’re going to write about doesn’t end up being very beneficial. Brainstorm before you start. Even if you stray away from your original idea and think of a new topic, you will still have a stronger basis and therefore a stronger, more organized essay. It will also be a much better use of your time.

4. Don’t obsess over your grades.

Yes, you want to do well in your classes senior year. But obsessing over your GPA to the point where it stresses you out and upsets you every day isn’t worth it. Sometimes you’ll have to make sacrifices, and maybe you’ll get a B on a test, and everything will still be fine. Really.

5. Stay focused on your goals.

The key word is “your.” Your goals. Not your classmates’ goals or your friends’ goals or your cousins’ goals, but yours. Don’t worry about who has already submitted their applications. Don’t let other people’s opinions of a school sway your opinion without any true reason. Just because someone you know doesn’t think your dream school is a valid dream school doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply there or go there. People have different opinions and you don’t have to change yours. Don’t waste your time applying to a school that you think would impress people if you don’t actually want to go there. Focus on what you want and where you see yourself.

6. Set your own deadlines.

Some people work really well on deadline. If you’re one of those people, set deadlines for each aspect of your applications. Similar to a to-do list, a huge application with a single deadline can be overwhelming. If you set deadlines for yourself, you’ll feel a lot less inclined to tackle everything at once and you’ll remain much more organized.

7. Know what works for you.

You know yourself better than anyone else does. Other people might advise you to manage your time a certain way but what’s important is that you find something that works for you. To other people, it may not seem organized, but if it works for you and keeps you on task, stick with it.

Applying to college is a stressful process, but don’t let it encompass your life. You are surrounded by so many other people, places, and experiences; and hey, maybe you’ll even stumble upon the perfect essay topic along the way.


Paige Sheffield 

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