College Crunch-time: Tips on Staying Sane While Applying to College
Advice from a Wake County high school senior
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There’s no secret formula or magic potion that can make the college application process completely stress-free. It sucks. I know. However, I hoped by sharing my journey through applications and the recruiting process as an athlete, I could shed some light on a few ideas you may have not picked up on before.
Trying to decide where you are going to possibly spend the next four years of your life is by no means an easy decision and should be evaluated and reevaluated on an almost daily basis. The pressure of this decision weighed on me for a long time, but as I began to get my hands dirty and start working on applications, my attitude changed quite dramatically. I began to view the process as the first steps toward the rest of my life, rather than thinking about all of the bad that could come from a poor decision.
Take an Optimistic Approach
By realizing that no matter where I end up, life will go on and I will learn an infinite amount of valuable lessons, I was able to remain optimistic that everything would turn out for the better in the end. This optimism made me feel a lot more confident in my college choices, as well as gave me a sort of fuel to chug along through the questions and essays the applications threw at me. I think this optimism would be beneficial to anybody entering into the process, or at least be a more positive alternative to pulling your hair out.
Along with optimism, I believe having a sense of determination really pushed me through the whole process and toward the end with surprising success. By staying focused on each task presented to me and knocking them down one by one, the applications felt less like a chore and more like an exciting race that needed to be run. Admittedly my determination did waver at times, as I found myself slamming my laptop shut in disbelief after my 500 word response decided to delete itself on four separate occasions. In reality though, by staying focused and keeping my sights set on the ultimate goal — a prosperous future — I was able to push through at times when my blood began to boil and steam blew out of my ears. By staying optimistic and determined, my college application process was a lot less stressful and I felt confident in what I was doing.
Reach Out for Help and Guidance
The college recruiting process has also been a task set before me, which I know for a fact can be even more intense for players going into high level programs such as those in Division I athletics. Trying to find a balance between my athletic and academic desires has been a major challenge no doubt, but luckily I've been blessed with people in my life who have helped me navigate these unchartered waters. That is probably my No. 1 piece of advice to the student athletes out there looking for guidance in a confusing time: Reach out to those who can best help you and don't be afraid to ask questions. For example, coaches, parents, school alumni and plenty of other people are all possible resources to tap into if you are looking for guidance. Of course, every path is different and some kids may have found this decision to be a piece of cake and were able to handle it on their own, but others, like me, need help picking out and reaching out to schools they are interested in.
This process has taught me plenty of lessons and shown me some parallels to finding success in every aspect of life. By staying determined and optimistic, along with being able to ask for help, I believe any student will be able to succeed in, and maybe even enjoy, the college application journey.
Alex Baker is a senior at Apex High School. He plays basketball and lacrosse, and is also a member of the school's Academy of Information Technology.