It’s that time of year! Millions of teens have applied to thousands of colleges and universities across the country. They’re enjoying their senior year of high school and getting ready for the holiday season, but they’re also secretly—or maybe not so secretly—freaking out about the future.
If you’re starting to panic about your college applications or you’re wondering whether you applied to enough schools (or the right schools) you’re not alone. Advice may be the last thing you want to hear right now, but your parents, teachers, guidance counselors, admissions counselors, and other people who have “been there, done that” usually have a few good suggestions.
We’ve also compiled seven reminders that should help you combat your college application anxiety:
1. Asking yourself, “What if?” doesn’t do any good. What if my essay could have been better? What if I didn’t participate in enough extracurricular activities? What if that C I got in my freshman geometry class totally ruins my chances? Stop right now! Your applications have been submitted. Now it’s time to wait and see what happens. Repeatedly nit-picking things in your head will do nothing but stress you out and drive your family crazy.
2. Life goes on even if you don’t get into your dream school. Whether it’s the Ivy League or the state university your parents both attended, you may or may not get into your first-choice school. If you aren’t accepted, you’re going to be disappointed—that’s a given—but your life will not be over. There are plenty of other colleges and universities in the world that would be thrilled to claim you as one of their own!
3. Selective colleges are just that … selective. The odds of being rejected are much higher than the odds of being accepted. If you aren’t among the chosen few who are invited to enroll, you’re not a poor student or a bad person. Don’t let anyone—yourself included—try to tell you otherwise.
4. There’s always next year. If things don’t pan out as you had hoped, there’s always next year! You may even be able to earn an associate’s degree at a less-expensive school before transferring to the school you really wanted to attend. Not only will you save money (or save your parents money) you’ll have a chance to show you’ve got what it takes to earn good grades at the college level.
5. There are successful, happy students at all colleges. Even once you accept the fact that there are plenty of colleges in the world, you might still be picturing a campus full of frowning students in the back of your mind. The truth is, there are thriving, cheerful students who earn good grades and succeed on most college campuses. They even go on to graduate and become successful adults in the workplace. And chances are, that school wasn’t the first choice dream school for every single student.
6. You’re the one that is going to college. Terrified that your parents won’t be thrilled with your college decision? They’ll most likely have a say in the situation—especially if they are footing the bill or paying for a portion of your education—but the bottom line is, you’re the one that is going to college. Deciding to attend a particular school only because your parents want you to is probably not a wise idea.
7. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Terrified about paying for school? College can be expensive, but it is possible to earn a degree without going into the poor house. Most students qualify for some type of financial aid. This doesn’t mean you should take out hundreds of thousands in student loans, but you’ll most likely be able to find ways to help yourself afford college.
Above all, remember that even though your education and training will play a role, your talents, personality, and drive for success are the factors that will help you go far in life—not where you went to college.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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