Five Ways to Take the Pressure Off

The college admissions process is putting a lot of pressure
on students these days. Here are five ways to take a lot of pressure off
yourself and regain college admissions control.

1.  Take charge of the process yourself.
The more you do for yourself, the more in control of the process you will feel.
So don’t let your parents plan college visits for you—decide for yourself what
you’d like to see. If you have questions about college or need help, ask. If
you haven’t met your high school counselor, walk into the office and introduce
yourself. The world rewards people who show initiative, and this is the time to
start taking charge of your own life.

2.  Decide for yourself what a "good school" is.
Reputations, rankings, or fancy marking materials can’t tell you that a school
is "good." Only you can do that. And to do so, you’ll need to spend
some time thinking about what excites you about college, how you like to learn,
and how you’d like to spend your time while you are there. So don’t let someone
else tell you that any college is inherently "good" or
"bad." Do some personal college soul-searching and decide for
yourself.

3.  Allow yourself to feel unsure.
Why are so many people nervous on their wedding day? They’re nervous because
big life decisions come with at least a little uncertainty. Some students are
certain of their college choices, but many more are not. Don’t worry. It’s OK
to like both big classes and small classes. It’s OK to be unsure what you want
to major in. It’s OK to want to be far away from home and close to home. To be
conflicted does not mean you are aimless. Uncertainty is a normal part of life.
Be confident, seek the advice of people you trust, and most importantly, listen
to your instincts.

4.  Celebrate your strengths.
Nobody, including the colleges, expects you to be good at everything. Yet too
many students focus only on their weaknesses. "My test scores aren’t high
enough." "My GPA is too low." "I don’t have enough
leadership." Don’t forget to take the time to acknowledge your strengths
and victories. "I’m good at my job at the daycare." "The
students in ASB listen to me." "I didn’t get picked for the school
play so I volunteered to work the lights." The qualities you possessed to
achieve these successes are what will ultimately make you happy and successful
during and after college.

5.  Relax.
Yes, you should take the college admissions process seriously. As with any
adult decision, this is not the time to be immature or careless. But that
doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy the process. Be yourself. Be confident.
Get excited about your college future. And remember, while not every student
gets into his or her first-choice college, the vast majority of college
graduates say they wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Everything is
going to be just fine.