The second half of your senior year is finally here, and if you planned things right, most (if not all) of your college admission applications are complete and on their way for consideration. I’m sure you’ve spent a significant number of hours during the last few months gathering documents, acquiring letters of recommendation and submitting test results – and I bet you thought that was the hard part, right? As you may be finding out, waiting for the results may actually be even more stressful than the application process itself. During the next couple of months, it’s important to keep your grades up, but also to have a healthy perspective on the whole college admission process. Here are a few things to take into consideration to avoid unnecessary stress and burnout in the last half of your senior year.
Keep School in Perspective
Are you an over-achiever? There’s nothing wrong with being one, unless it starts to make you sick or stressed out. Adding a ton of activities to your schedule at this point won’t really make or break your chances of being accepted to the college of your dreams. During the remainder of your senior year, concentrate on those activities you enjoy; it’s usually quality, not quantity, that impresses admissions officers. If you over-schedule yourself, you may find it has an adverse effect on your studies, which is something you definitely want to avoid. And speaking of studies, don’t get too wrapped up in the competition game. It’s not the end of the world if you aren’t the class valedictorian; just be sure to maintain a solid grade point average. Nobody expects you to be perfect.
Hopefully you applied to several schools and did not rely on one or two applications to make the grade. Students often make the mistake of setting their sights on a ‘dream college’ that may or may not be a good fit. Pinning all your hopes on one or two schools can definitely cause your stress levels to skyrocket. Have a back-up plan and apply to a few other ‘good fit’ schools to give yourself more choices. By the way, mom and dad may need a reality check, too. If you are feeling pressure from them to attend a certain college or to take certain classes, make the time to sit down together to discuss your vision for the future. Keep in mind that if your parents will be paying for your education, you should be prepared to explain why you may not agree with their vision for your future. You’ll need to be prepared to offer up more than just the word “because” as your answer for why you won’t be attending their school of choice.
If you find you are having problems concentrating, sleeping, or are feeling depressed, be sure to take a break. Stress can lead to a variety of health problems, including a lack of appetite and severe headaches. This is your body’s way of saying enough is enough. Take a run or go for a walk; try some deep breathing exercises or visualize yourself somewhere warm and peaceful. Just a few moments away from your everyday grind can give you a renewed energy and alleviate some of the stress you are feeling.
Also, be sure to steer clear of drugs and alcohol. Many students have fallen into the trap of using drugs like Adderall or Ritalin to help stay awake for long study sessions or to increase concentration, but these drugs can have serious side effects. Do not take any medication unless prescribed to you by a licensed physician. Taking medications meant for those suffering from ADHD can lead to strokes, heart attacks, seizures or even death. Use healthy alternatives, such as fruit and exercise, to stimulate your brain and get an added boost when you are feeling rundown.
If you find you are seriously depressed and are having thoughts of harming yourself (or others), be sure to talk to someone or seek help. You are not alone when it comes to experiencing stress as a result of the college admissions process. In fact, if you ask most of your peers, I’m sure you’ll find many are having similar feelings. Try to keep the whole process in perspective. Many of today’s most successful people were rejected from their first choice for college, proving that it’s not necessarily the destination that leads to your success — it’s probably mostly about the journey.
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