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15 ways for students - and parents - to deal with college application stress

Posted by Leslie Anderson  December 11, 2013 06:23 PM

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There is no way to completely eliminate stress during the college admissions process, but those who work with students say there are ways to help make it bearable for students and parents. The following is a list of some of those suggestions.

For students:

1. Start early. There is nothing that will create more stress than rushing at deadline to finish applications.

2. Create a timeline that allows all your applications to be complete before you hear back from a school or schools you applied to for early action. This prevents a rush to regroup under pressure if the news isn’t good.

3. Be organized. You can reduce your workload, and your stress if you take a few minutes to go over all your applications to see where they overlap and make an organized list of deadlines and what each school requires.

4. Create a list of schools that includes more than one you would be happy attending and will likely get into. Putting all your hopes into getting into a single “dream school” is not only stressful, but unrealistic in today’s unpredictable admissions climate.

5. Acknowledge that the process is difficult, take a deep breath, and put things into perspective. Remember that virtually every student who applies to a realistic range of colleges gets in somewhere.

6.Once that last send button in pressed, let the applications stand on their own. Don’t keep sending the school updates or pester admissions offices with questions.

7. Start enjoying yourself. It is important to keep grades up, but start enjoying the perks of being a senior. Try something you may have never had time to do. Cheer on your friends on the school basketball team, play intramural sports, take a yoga class.

8. Start getting excited about going to college and taking the next step in your life, rather than focusing on getting into a particular school.

9. Acknowledge that there will likely be some disappointments. That’s OK. It’s also OK to feel happy for a friend who got into their first choice school while feeling miserable that you didn’t.

10. Remember that this is just a step in your journey. Nothing is etched in stone. If a school you attend doesn’t work out, you can transfer and things will be fine.

For Parents:

1. Let your son or daughter drive the process. It’s their choice, not yours.

2. It is difficult, but be realistic about your expectations. The climate is different now than it may have been when you went to college, be careful not to burden your teen with unreasonable goals.

3. Keep the lines of communication open, but take your cues from your son or daughter. Sometimes the best thing is to not talk about the college applications.

4. It’s hard to see your son or daughter upset. Your first response has always been to fix things and make them better. This is one of those things you may not be able to fix. Ignore the urge to make a phone call to an admissions office.

5. This is the time to be proud of your son's or daughter’s accomplishments. Let them know it.

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@gmail.com.

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About College Bound

College Bound offers news and advice on preparing, applying, and ultimately heading off to college. Send your ideas and questions to Leslie.Anderson@globe.com. More »
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