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Six Ways to Fight Application Stress

stressed student looking at laptop

Got a case of application stress? Feel pressured to ace tests, write brilliant essays, and create perfect apps? Worried about getting in? Here's help.

Every year, high school seniors run the gauntlet of applying to college—and survive. But when you're in the middle of it, it is tough to gain perspective. Rest assured that many, many students have been in your predicament. Those students, and the counselors that help them, have passed along the following tips to help keep your fears at bay.

How to Relax While Applying to College

The natural reaction to stress is to flee what's causing it. But the solution is to accept that things are tough, take time to calm down, and then take steps to stay on task. Knowing you have got it all covered is the best remedy for application anxiety. Here are some strategies.

1. Breathe. Seriously, simply sitting still and breathing deeply helps panic subside.

2. Organize your apps. Many students report this is the best way to stop worrying about your applications. Make a list of all deadlines and requirements, and then a timeline for getting it all done.

3. Reduce essay stress by telling your story—and starting early. Not knowing what to write in your essays is a huge panic trigger. Look at the essay prompts and take lots of time to think about how your personal experiences might relate to them. Your essay might practically write itself.

4. Apply to a college you like that will probably admit you. This way, you'll know you have a college to attend. To further reduce stress, apply early if the college offers early action decisions.

5. Apply to at least one college that is test-optional if you are concerned about your test scores. Test-optional means the college will not consider your scores in their decision.

6. Ask an adult to proof and review your applications so you are confident there are no mistakes or omissions. 

How to Weather the Tension While Waiting for Decisions

  • Dive into your senior year. Enjoy the "rites of passage" for seniors. Spend time with your close friends—you may not see much of them once you are off to college. Same goes for your parents. And of course, keep up your grades.
  • Get excited about your upcoming college life, regardless of where you get in. Talk to college students about what college is like. Dream a little about what you would like to put in your dorm room.
  • Find out more about the colleges lower down on your list. Rejections are a natural outcome of applying, and getting excited about options besides your top choices will ease your anxiety about those potential denials.

What's Next?

For help starting, finishing or revising your college essay see 6 Steps to Start Your College Essay and  7 Ways to Improve Your Essay.

Getting organized can help lower your stress levels. For tips, see Do Your Best With Apps. Get Organized!

The information contained on the CollegeData website is for general informational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content contained on the CollegeData website without consulting with your parents, high school counselors, admissions representatives or other college counseling professionals. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content on the CollegeData website.