Applying to college can be an incredibly stressful process. Between acquiring transcripts, getting letters of recommendation, and composing essays, your to-list can quickly become overwhelming. And there is always the anxiety that comes with the unspeakable question: “What if I don’t get accepted to any college?”

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But before you let this anxiety and stress get the better of you, remember that you’ve been working long and hard to get to this point. With a little ingenuity (and these four indispensable tips), your college application process can be a smooth, and even enjoyable, process:

1. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

First, you want to allow plenty of time to complete each application to the best of your ability. According to a recent article, if you plan on applying to between eight and twelve schools, then you should plan on spending around 100 total hours on the application process.

With after-school activities, clubs, and sports, finding that kind of time can be tricky, which is why you should be proactive and begin budgeting your time sooner rather than later. Allowing yourself the maximum amount of time possible for each application will cut down on mistakes as well as frustration!

2. Reuse Application Material When Possible

Many college and universities will ask for similar, if not identical, pieces of information from you, so it’s important to be aware of what elements can be used on multiple applications.

According to the above article, a resource called The Common Application allows students to apply to multiple schools while inputting some information just one time. As of now, the Common Application can be used for over 500 colleges and universities, so be sure to check and see if you can use it to apply to any of your schools of choice.

Further, many applications will ask similar questions, and you may find that, with some minor alterations, you can use the same response for multiple schools. One caveat to this approach, however, is not to let yourself get lazy. If you’re reusing answers, be sure that you’re responding to the specific questions asked on each application.

3. Discuss Realistic Options with Your Parents

Figuring out where to go to school is a big choice, so naturally many parents have strong opinions on the subject.

A recent article in The Huffington Post offers several pieces of advice for how to tackle the college conversation with your parents. Before wading into discussions about possible colleges, try to assess what it is you want out of your college experience. What do you want to major in? What career field do you eventually want to go into? Take the time to research what programs various schools offer as well as the strength of those programs and their costs.

Most colleges are better known and respected for certain academic disciplines. If you have a strong idea of what you want to achieve in college, and which school will best help you achieve it, then it will help make discussions about college go more smoothly with your parents.

4. Apply to Some Backup Schools

It’s important to have goals, aim high, and apply to the college of your dreams. But even if your GPA is perfect and you earned high marks on your SATs, there’s still the chance that you won’t get into your dream school. It’s okay; it’s not the end of the world. Unless, of course, your dream school was the only college to which you applied!

For this reason, a Huffington Post article published this year suggests that you should apply to not just one but several safety schools — colleges that are more likely to accept you. Just as you did with your top-choice colleges, do a little bit of research and figure out what safety school is the best fit for your academic needs.

Sadly, there is no silver bullet that makes the college application process easy and completely stress-free. But by following these simple pieces of advice, hopefully you can keep your frustration (and sleepless nights) to a minimum. Good luck!

Of course, not all schools have a selective application process. Many schools will accept all students who apply as long as they meet minimum requirements. To find out more about these colleges, click here!


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