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Tips for a Stress-Free College Application Process

Facing the college application process is one of the most stressful things about being a high school senior. Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are long and difficult, requiring many hours of studying and prep work. Even after those tests are completed, you still have to research colleges, fill out applications, and write admissions essays.


On top of this, comparing colleges and applying for financial aid can lead to concerns about financial debt. And you have to face all of these stressors in your senior year of high school! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, check out the following tips from Great Aspirations to learn how you can survive college application stress.


Consider an Online Education


If you’re feeling stressed about making the transition from high school to college, consider pursuing an online degree. Research suggests that students experience less stress in online courses. Online schools offer greater flexibility to students, and they’re more affordable too. As long as you attend an accredited school, your online degree will hold just as much weight as a traditional degree. Online colleges offer many of the same programs as traditional institutions. For example, if you want to work in education, you can enroll in an online degree program and get your bachelor of science in education entirely online!


Organize Your Admissions Documents


Before you begin applying to colleges, create a system to keep your admissions documents organized. This will make it easier to find important documents and avoid mix-ups in your applications. Consider keeping both a physical file of your admissions documents as well as digital copies of all your paperwork. Digitizing all of your paper records will ensure you always have access to important documents, even if you misplace the originals. Take advantage of online PDF tools to keep those digital copies organized. For example, you can use an online PDF merging tool to combine multiple document pages into a single file.


Start Studying for Tests Early


The earlier you start studying for standardized admission tests, the better. Many experts suggest that high school students begin studying the summer before junior year. This will give you plenty of time to become comfortable with the material without forgetting it completely. Regardless of when you start studying, be sure to follow a study plan so you can feel confident that you’ve covered everything. This will go a long way toward reducing your stress levels.


Take a Deep Breath


It’s completely normal to be stressed about college admissions even if you feel well-prepared for the application process and confident in your test scores. Take a deep breath. You will survive this! Stress.org suggests practicing deep breathing for 20 to 30 minutes each day to reduce anxiety and stress. As a bonus benefit, this practice will improve your cognitive performance by increasing blood flow to your brain!


Prioritize High-Quality Sleep


According to Healthline, about 73% of high school students regularly fail to get a healthy amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased moodiness, trouble staying focused, daytime fatigue, and even depression-like symptoms. Prioritizing your sleep quality is absolutely essential if you want to keep stress at bay during the college application process. Believe it or not, teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep every day! If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep every night, try some of these suggestions:


  • Practice a relaxing bedtime routine.

  • Avoid using your bed for homework, studying, or playing video games.

  • Get exercise every day.

  • Avoid caffeine after lunchtime.

  • Limit your screen time before bed.

  • Try not to sleep in too late on the weekends.


Applying to college will always be a stressful time, but you can take steps to stay organized and ensure you feel prepared. Consider enrolling in an online school for greater flexibility and affordability, keep your admissions documents organized, and start studying for standardized tests as early as possible. And remember to get enough sleep!


Looking for more educational resources? Check out Great Aspirations for links and resources for those with learning disabilities and learning differences.



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