Opinion | The College Application Process: 11 High School Seniors Discuss

How would you describe the college application process?
How would you
describe the
college application
process?


“Stressful.”


Morin,


18, Ind., Black


“Time-consuming.”


Mandy,


17, N.Y., white


“Aggravating.”


Isabella,


17, N.Y., white

What is college for? And what matters most in choosing the right college? With teenagers and parents across America finishing applications and bracing for admissions decisions, we recently posed those questions and more to a focus group of 11 high school seniors — some of them pretty stressed out (understandably), others at peace with their picks but worried about loans and several of them debating the admissions process and how it could be improved.

The students were all applying to four-year schools with competitive admissions and had drawn on the U.S. News and World Report college rankings as part of their research. There were some intriguing points of agreement. All 11 students believed that college is primarily for gaining a credential to get a job or admission to graduate school rather than mostly for learning about oneself and how to be an adult. And while they had mixed feelings about the U.S. News rankings — which have been criticized by several elite law schools — they all agreed that they would like to see the rankings factor in student mental health.

“Whenever I see TikToks from college students, they’re always talking about the stress from their work,” said one of the focus group participants, Morin, an 18-year-old from Indiana. “I wish the rankings considered the mental and emotional aspects of college, too.”

Several of the students were drawn to the idea of going to a top-ranked school, seeing it as the ticket to better internships and jobs and bragging rights, but others said that ensuring their happiness mattered more than going to a highly ranked school that might not give them the experience or support that they want. Angela, a 17-year-old from North Carolina, said, “The college itself, just the name, wouldn’t be inherently what’s making me happy or sad but, rather, other things about the environment, whether I’m enjoying my classes, whether I feel like I’m getting a good education.”


Ambika


17, North Carolina, Asian


Angela


17, North Carolina, Black


Isabella


17, New York, white


Mandy


17, New York, white


Morin


18, Indiana, Black


Noel


17, New York, Latino


Om


18, Texas, Asian


Stefan


18, Arizona, Latino


Stephan


17, Kansas, Latino


Thomas


18, Kentucky, white


Thomas


17, Oregon, white


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Try to fill in the blank: What excites me the most about going to college is, blank.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

Getting the experience I need to become an engineer.


Mandy,


17, New York, white

Meeting new people and having new experiences.


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

Getting new connections and being able to use that to advance my career.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

Learning independence.


Stefan,


18, Arizona, Latino

I’m most excited about going on a new adventure.


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

The freedom.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

Getting a fresh start.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Isabella, what do you mean by “independence”?


Isabella,


17, New York, white

I feel like when you start college, you’re starting to learn what it really feels like to be an adult. You’re learning how to manage being away from home. You’re learning how to have a job.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Angela, tell me what you mean about college being a fresh start.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

Being in a new environment with new people who don’t have any preconceived notions about you.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

What about what worries you the most about going to college?


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

The cost of education and the fear of not being able to make friends, just being anxious.


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

The cost and the potential for loans.


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

I’m scared of not being able to catch up or keep up with your grades.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

I’d say not having anyone behind you anymore.


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

It’s, again, the freedom.


Stefan,


18, Arizona, Latino

I would say the stress.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

I would say meeting people and making sure I chose the major that I actually wanted to do.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

I’m also worried about the cost, keeping up with grades and about having your personal life and your school life mix.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

So it sounds like there are three big themes: the cost, questions about fitting in and questions about academics. A couple of you used the phrase “catch up.” Om?


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

High school taught me that learning to be on time with your assignments is totally pivotal to your grade. And as someone who procrastinates a lot, I feel like having to catch up with your work is much more stressful. It’ll be much more important in college than it is now


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Noel, tell me a little more about your word, “freedom.”


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

School was very rigid in the way that your classes were given to you. Now I get to go off and do my own thing. I feel like giving me too much freedom might steer me from what I’m actually there to do.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Thinking about the characteristics of the dream college or university that you would want to go to — what are the qualities that are most important to you?


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

The internship opportunities. The potential people and companies you meet. The networking.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Do you think that some colleges are better than others at helping connect students or get students those internships?


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

Definitely. I feel like the more popular and successful you are at creating successful graduates, the more people want to give you intern opportunities. Harvard is really known for having the smartest and brightest graduates after college. So Harvard will have more internship opportunities than other colleges. So status matters when it comes to choosing a college, when it comes to finding potential job opportunities later on.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Om, what are the qualities or characteristics that would make a school appeal to you most?


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

I guess the quality of education.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

How do you assess if one school gives a better education than another?


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

The teacher-to-student ratio. Graduation rates are also something I look at a lot.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Noel, what qualities are you most looking for?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

I learned that name carries a lot of weight, so the name of the school and the location of it as well.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

What’s important about the location of it?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

Whether it’s accessible to a city.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

You mentioned that the name carries weight. Carries weight with whom?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

Everybody was talking about internship opportunities. A college with a massive name, inside of a certain state or city, will propel you to where you want to get to, being that a lot of people know about the school.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

I wanted to ask a show-of-hands question. Is college primarily to gain a credential to get a job or apply to graduate school, or is college primarily a place to learn about yourself and learn about how to be an adult?


Who says that college is
primarily to gain a credential?


Who says that college is primarily to gain a credential?


11 people raised their hands.



Ambika, 17, N.C., Asian



Angela, 17, N.C., Black



Isabella, 17, N.Y., white



Mandy, 17, N.Y., white



Morin, 18, Ind., Black



Noel, 17, N.Y., Latino



Om, 18, Texas, Asian



Stefan, 18, Ariz., Latino



Stephan, 17, Kan., Latino



Thomas, 18, Ky., white



Thomas, 17, Ore., white


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Angela, tell me about your answer.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

Well, I know what environment I thrive in the most. And college is not one of those things. But I know that to get where I need to go, I have to go. But you don’t have to go to college. It’s really not a necessity for everybody, especially not for self-discovery. If anything, it sets a lot of people back.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

It sounds like you’re saying you know yourself pretty well already.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

Well, I know the type of environment I want to be in, the type people want to be around, what I want to do with my time. I have inner peace.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Mandy, how do you see it?


Mandy,


17, New York, white

Yeah, I think college is a prerequisite for a lot of careers and for the career I want to go into, engineering. Ideally, I want to go somewhere where I feel like I’ll also enjoy my time and not just do my studies. But the main thing is getting the experience and credentials and degree.


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

I feel like I’ve lived with myself for quite a few years. I know who I am. And I don’t think I need a college experience to teach me more about who I am. But I do need it to go start a career. If anything, college can set you back with more conformity and cookie-cutter ways of life.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Thomas, could you give an example of something you’ve already learned about yourself, that you don’t need college to remind you about or open your eyes to more?


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

I’ve learned things I’m passionate about, whether it be educational topics or hobbies. College is not really going to teach me more about myself.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

You’re all in this group because you plan on applying to college this year. How many colleges do you plan to apply to?


Mandy,


17, New York, white

18.


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

Probably like 20.


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

Around 12.


Stefan,


18, Arizona, Latino

One or two.


Thomas,


17, Oregon, white

I think it was 10.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

Around nine.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

Five.


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

Nine to 10, I’d say.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

Around 12.


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

13.


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

I have three.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

So Stefan S., why only three?


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

Well, I had, originally, six or seven that I was interested in. And for various reasons, like cost or location, I cut them out. I didn’t feel the need to apply to places that I know I’m not going to go to.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Mandy and Morin, you had numbers that were much higher.


Mandy,


17, New York, white

I didn’t plan on applying to 18. That’s just the number that it ended up being. I just wanted options, with a range of schools that are easier for me to get into or maybe I won’t necessarily get in but I wanted to try.


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

Yeah, I’m not pretty confident with my chances of getting into all the schools I applied to. But you never know.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

How do you think about a college’s ranking when you’re trying to decide where to apply?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

It’s important. You want something to brag about. But it’s not a determining factor.


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

It definitely plays a part. I want to go into business, so I look at where the school ranks in that area, if it’s a good school or a bad school.


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

Right, it’s a contributing factor. I’m also looking at probably going to grad school afterwards. Your undergrad college isn’t as important as your graduate school.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

I feel like ranking doesn’t really matter because most of the colleges in my state are pretty decent. And as long as they offer the course that I want to take, then I feel like it doesn’t matter.


Do you think that attending a highly
ranked college would lead you to make
more money in your career?


Do you think that attending a highly ranked college would lead you to make more money in your career?


10 people raised their hands.



Ambika, 17, N.C., Asian



Angela, 17, N.C., Black



Isabella, 17, N.Y., white



Mandy, 17, N.Y., white



Morin, 18, Ind., Black



Noel, 17, N.Y., Latino



Om, 18, Texas, Asian



Stefan, 18, Ariz., Latino



Stephan, 17, Kan., Latino



Thomas, 18, Ky., white



Thomas, 17, Ore., white


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

Rankings hold a lot of sway. Say you get a degree from one of your local schools. Nobody really thinks about it. But if you can say, “Oh, I graduated from Harvard,” all of a sudden you’re networking, you have a job. I think some jobs adjust your pay based on the skills that you have and based on how well they think you fit. And that can be influenced by a school’s ranking because they’re automatically going to assume that you’re more fit for the job than somebody with a mediocre school ranking. Even if that’s not true, they have that bias.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

If you get a degree, say, from Harvard or Yale and you want to go for an internship, I think they would take the person from Harvard or Yale than from another college, just because they’re known for a higher education standard.


Thomas,


17, Oregon, white

I guess you could use the ranking of the school to brag, or use that to your advantage when choosing a job or occupation. But really, it’s more about the education that you get from the school.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Do you think, Thomas, that the education that a student gets at a school like a Harvard or a Yale is, in and of itself, better than the education they would get at a school that’s maybe less prestigious or ranked a little bit lower? Is it the name, or is it the actual quality of the education is better at these top-ranked schools?


Thomas,


17, Oregon, white

I feel like it’s more of the quality of the education than the name of the school. Yeah, Harvard does have a lot of really bright students and teachers that could be classified as geniuses. But it’s really based on the field that you’re going into, and like I said, the quality of education that you get. And you could get really good teachers from a, I guess, midranked college.


Do you think that attending a
higher-ranked college would lead
to you having a happier life?


Do you think that attending a higher-ranked college would lead to you having a happier life?


0 people raised their hands.



Ambika, 17, N.C., Asian



Angela, 17, N.C., Black



Isabella, 17, N.Y., white



Mandy, 17, N.Y., white



Morin, 18, Ind., Black



Noel, 17, N.Y., Latino



Om, 18, Texas, Asian



Stefan, 18, Ariz., Latino



Stephan, 17, Kan., Latino



Thomas, 18, Ky., white



Thomas, 17, Ore., white


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Thomas M., could you say why you don’t see that?


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

There are a lot more factors that affect my happiness than going to a prestigious school.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

What are some of those factors?


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

How far I am from my family, from friends from high school. Is it an area I feel comfortable in? Is it outside my comfort zone? Even my housing situation while I’m at college. All those are going to kind of play a larger role than whether I’m going to the No. 1 ranked college.


Stefan,


18, Arizona, Latino

I’m kind of in between, I would say. If you were really poorly ranked, maybe you would not be able to get as many opportunities as other people would so you wouldn’t be as happy.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

Yeah, I agree with most of what Thomas said, that the college itself, just the name, wouldn’t be inherently what’s making me happy or sad but, rather, other things about the environment, whether I’m enjoying my classes, whether I feel like I’m getting a good education.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I want to turn now to the U.S. News college rankings, because that’s been one of the major ways that rankings come together. I’m going to display a list of factors that go into these rankings. These are listed in no particular order: graduation and retention rates, social mobility, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources per student, alumni giving rate, undergraduate indebtedness.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Is there anything that you are surprised to see is included in these rankings, and is there anything that is not on this list that you think should be there?


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

You mentioned something about the alumni giving back money to the school. That surprised me a lot. I feel like the amount that alumni give back to their university is not a useful way of determining how good a school is.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

If alumni are contributing a lot of money, that would mean they have good jobs. But it is a pretty strange thing to put there.


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

I think alumni donations have a lot to do with their loyalty to the school. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a metric of how good the school is at education.


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

I didn’t hear anything about stress or mental health. I don’t know if that should have been in there. But whenever I see TikToks from college students, they’re always talking about the stress from their work. I’m just surprised they didn’t mention anything about that. I wish the rankings considered the mental and emotional aspects of college, too.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

What would be a good way to measure or include a factor like that in a ranking?


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

How many resources they’re actually devoting to addressing the mental health crisis in their colleges, the resources they have, the students’ evaluation of what their colleges are doing to reduce mental issues.


Would you like to see a metric about
student mental health incorporated
into these rankings?


Would you like to see a metric about student mental health incorporated into these rankings?


11 people raised their hands.



Ambika, 17, N.C., Asian



Angela, 17, N.C., Black



Isabella, 17, N.Y., white



Mandy, 17, N.Y., white



Morin, 18, Ind., Black



Noel, 17, N.Y., Latino



Om, 18, Texas, Asian



Stefan, 18, Ariz., Latino



Stephan, 17, Kan., Latino



Thomas, 18, Ky., white



Thomas, 17, Ore., white


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

So the top factor in rankings is graduation and retention rates. Undergraduate academic reputation is second, as is faculty resources. And then something like the average alumni giving rate is pretty low in the mix, as is graduate indebtedness. Early on, many of you all mentioned that cost was something you were really concerned about when it came to college.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

On a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 meaning that this is not that important and 5 meaning this is an enormously important piece of information, how many of you would put yourselves at a 1 when it comes to student indebtedness or graduate indebtedness as a factor? [No one raises a hand.] How about 2? [Two people raise a hand.] How about three? [Three people raise a hand.] Four? [Three people raise a hand.] And five? [One person raises a hand.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

Student debt is a big deal. I think people need to know how much they would be leaving with after they graduate college.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Is there anything else you think the rankings are failing to consider?


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

I feel like the safety rate should be put up there. I’ve seen a lot of people on the news, like some college dorm people, they get killed or hurt.


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

Is campus life on that list?


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

How would you rate whether campus life is good or not?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

I’d want feedback from the students that are already in the college, how dorm life is, what the overall atmosphere of the college is like.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

So some kind of student-life satisfaction metric?


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

Exactly.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Let’s talk a little bit more about mental health and the feelings that you all have been having as you have gone through the college application process. Here’s another fill-in-the-blank exercise: The college application process is, blank.


Mandy,


17, New York, white

Time-consuming.


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

Monotonous.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

Aggravating.


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

Tedious.


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

Stressful.


Stefan,


18, Arizona, Latino

Repetitive.


Thomas,


17, Oregon, white

Uneasy.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

Stressful.


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

Repetitive.


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

Aggravating.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

There are a couple of you who mentioned “monotonous,” “repetitive.”


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

I feel like I’m filling out the same thing 30 different ways.


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

There’s a number of private universities I’ve applied to where I just need to regather all the same information again. It was just annoying to do it over and over and over again. And as far as state schools, my state puts it all into one application.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Let’s hear from the people who said “aggravating.”


Isabella,


17, New York, white

Most of the work I had to do was on the computer. So you had to have a good Wi-Fi connection and had to have all your documents up, in case you needed to upload them. You had to fill out a lot of questionnaires. And then there was the FAFSA [the Federal Application for Student Aid,] which I feel like was the more aggravating component of the college process.


Did you find filling out the FAFSA
forms really frustrating?


Did you find filling out the FAFSA forms really frustrating?


4 people raised their hands.



Ambika, 17, N.C., Asian



Angela, 17, N.C., Black



Isabella, 17, N.Y., white



Mandy, 17, N.Y., white



Morin, 18, Ind., Black



Noel, 17, N.Y., Latino



Om, 18, Texas, Asian



Stefan, 18, Ariz., Latino



Stephan, 17, Kan., Latino



Thomas, 18, Ky., white



Thomas, 17, Ore., white


Thomas,


17, Oregon, white

I was mostly just worried about Wi-Fi and how good my computer is or phone to fill out stuff and just having that feeling that you could lose your stuff if your computer crashes or something happens with the technology that you have. There was a lot of unease.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Morin, you said the process was stressful.


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

The fact that you have to rely on your parents’ information. What if I didn’t have their information? And then there’s just so much information to fill out. I just wish they could shorten it. It’s also stressful how the amount of money that you think you need, they don’t end up giving it to you. It’s a long process and a little unfair.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

If you were giving colleges and universities advice on how to redesign the process to make it easier, what would that look like?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

Private universities could have more things to fill out that could apply to every other university.


Mandy,


17, New York, white

Have a limit of one supplemental question each. I get that a college may want to ask an additional question, outside of the essays on the Common App, but a couple of my samples had three each. Even two, I felt like it was a lot.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

So Mandy, in your case, how did you find that, having to write a couple of different essays?


Mandy,


17, New York, white

There are some similarities. And you can use your previously written ones to help guide your other ones after that. I can’t say I’ve done every essay with completely original thoughts for each specific college.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

I can write an essay. It’s no big deal. I didn’t apply to that many colleges, but I got the same prompt three different times for three different colleges. I just copy and pasted. It’s one thing to have a question that’s unique to that specific college. But for them all to be all using the same question, I don’t see the point of it. I really don’t understand.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

I haven’t thought about what Angela said before. But now that she says it, I agree with that. I think it would be easier if you could just fill out one big application.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

A few people have brought up mental health in college. But have you noticed any changes in your own stress levels or sleep or mental health, generally, due to the college application process? Has it made you feel a little differently in ways that you might notice?


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

Yeah, I feel like having to prioritize your college applications over your schoolwork, any of the other duties you have to do — it’s very stressful. I had to leave aside all the assignments I had to do before the term ended. And it piled on a lot of work for me.


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

Yeah, my school’s college office, their advisers were responsible for sending out my transcripts. And one of them missed my deadline for a private college. It’s almost destroyed my lack of trust with anybody that needs to handle my personal documents. It’s given me this mind-set in which I need to do everything myself. And I’ve noticed that it’s been not destroying but hurting a lot of relationships, interpersonal relationships that I have, because I need to do it myself now.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Has anyone else felt that way, the stress from the lack of control that they might have over the process?


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

I definitely agree with Noel on that point. The ones who are supposed to be responsible aren’t necessarily on top of it like we are.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

I’m always in a perpetual state of anxiety. But putting in grades was really stressful for me because for most of high school, I was at home. I was doing online learning. And that really affected me in a negative way, affected my grades in a negative way, affected my extracurriculars in a negative way. So the whole time I’m doing this process, I’m thinking about how that is going to affect how these colleges see me because I know that I’m a good student. But does my performance during that time, which — it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t me. How is that going to look?


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Do others feel like you were set back at all or worry that the effects of being remote during Covid-19 and everything that was related to that might either make getting into college harder or make that transition to college harder?


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

I don’t think it affected me. If anything, I think it helped me with my grades because I really prefer online learning. I felt, like, an improvement when I did online learning compared to when I did in school in person. So by improving my grades, I could get a better transcript. And having a better transcript can increase my chance of getting accepted to colleges.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

I don’t really think online school helped me that much. I wasn’t able to join as many clubs or do any internships or gain any experience in what I wanted to do. I procrastinated a lot during online learning. And I wasn’t able to turn in a lot of assignments on time because I always felt like not doing anything because I was just at home. My grades during online school were not that good compared to the grades that I typically got freshman and junior year. I’m way better off when I’m learning at school than I am online.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

There were some mentions, earlier in the group, about social media, seeing someone on TikTok, for instance, talking about a college or university. Did anything on social media play a role in your decision to apply to college or which colleges to apply to?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

A bit. When I started to apply, that’s when I started seeing a little bit more content about colleges, some negative, some positive, because it was mainly about what goes on at the school. But as far as my friends that go to state schools, it completely destroyed my will to go to a school inside the state. Yes, I applied as a backup. But I wasn’t confident in going to a state school just because of what I saw on social media.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

What were the things that you saw that turned you off to a particular school?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

The schools, especially in New York City, the colleges look like prisons. And a majority of them have no real difference to some of the high schools in my area. And that’s a big turnoff.


Stephan,


17, Kansas, Latino

The school that I’m most interested in, they won the N.C.A.A., the championship for basketball last year. And so once they won, I saw a whole bunch of TikToks celebrating. And since this is a community close to mine, being able to be involved with all that, being able to celebrate and experience that definitely had an impact on me, wanting to be part of something like that, especially since I love basketball, too.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Is there anything you wish you had known about the college admissions process before you began applying to different schools?


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

Yeah, getting those transcripts in on time was a big thing. I didn’t know that it was going to take that long. And I didn’t know that I needed the transcripts to be sent in as they were.


Angela,


17, North Carolina, Black

I would have to agree about the transcripts, just because, at least when I applied, it didn’t really tell me anything about it until the end.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

I think time management. I didn’t know how time-consuming and stressful the college applications would be. So if I knew ahead of time, then maybe I would have planned better so I would have more time to do both college applications and my assignments from school.


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

Yeah, what Ambika said. Having good time management. I spent around 80 percent of my time on the college application for my essay because I wasn’t really sure what to write. And I kept procrastinating and deleting, re-editing the same thing, 20 different times. If I knew how much time to put into that and get everything else done under a good schedule, I think that would have made it much easier for me.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

If I could go back, I would start looking earlier, and I’d also get my documents in order earlier, so it would be less stressful when the time came.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

What advice do you have for other high school students, for students younger than you, who may be feeling overwhelmed by the college admissions process and their own mental health?


Stefan,


18, Arizona, Latino

Make sure you know what your priorities are and prioritize what matters to you most. Even though the process did take a long time, I was set on not applying to many colleges from the beginning. And that gave me a sense of relaxation, in the sense that I wasn’t stressed out about picking this many places.


Thomas,


18, Kentucky, white

Just manage your time well. Know that your essay doesn’t have to be perfect. Get transcripts sent in early, if you can. Just really try and almost precrastinate instead of procrastinate.


Isabella,


17, New York, white

Start drafting a little bit of your essay in junior year. That would take a lot of pressure off when the application process starts. And though you’ll go through stress, it’ll be over once the application is done. It’s short-lived stress. Everybody goes through it. You’ll be fine.


Morin,


18, Indiana, Black

Plan ahead and start looking into colleges, because doing everything during senior year or even junior year can be a little risky. They should start researching colleges and finding scholarships sophomore year.


Mandy,


17, New York, white

I was going to say something similar: Research colleges earlier. Having to learn specific facts about each college has taken me more time than anticipated.


Om,


18, Texas, Asian

I’d say just be open about the process with your friends because I feel like opening up to other people about it and being able to talk about it helps a lot. When I was with my friends, we joked about how tedious and annoying it was. And I also got feedback from them on my essays. So I think being open about it is something you should keep in mind.


Thomas,


17, Oregon, white

Have an idea of what college environment you want to be in, based on how strict it is, how good of an education it offers.


Ambika,


17, North Carolina, Asian

Try to apply to colleges that you know you would likely go to if you got in. I’ve applied to a lot of colleges that I don’t even think I want to go to.


Noel,


17, New York, Latino

It isn’t that deep. As final as college may seem, it really isn’t. And if you screw up or you mess up, you just have to take it in stride because everybody does at some point.


iwano@_84

iwano@_84

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