Five things to stop doing

We’ve all got plenty of items on our to-do lists. For college applicants, here’s a short list of things to stop doing:

1. Stop focusing so much on improving your perceived weaknesses.

You’re not perfect and colleges don’t expect you to be. Instead, try maximizing your strengths.

2. Stop spending more time on test prep than you do on school, activities, family, or fun.

It’s not a good strategy to place more importance on standardized tests than even the colleges do.

3. Stop participating in activities you’ve heard look good to colleges but that you don’t particularly enjoy.

4. Stop worrying so much about what your competition is doing.

Who got into AP Spanish, who cracked 2100 on the SAT, who won the award, who got picked as a starter, or who was named first chair in the orchestra—you can’t out-achieve, out-pace, or out-copy everyone else. You don’t get to control what they do. You can only control what you do. And speaking of control…

5. Stop focusing on the parts of this process that you don’t control.

Relentlessly focus on the parts that are within your control (here are a few suggestions).

Don’t stop caring about your future, working hard, or setting goals for yourself. It’s possible to keep doing those things while eliminating those on the “Stop” list.