Tips for Managing Stress During College Prep

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Thinking about everything you have to complete to get into the college of your dreams can be difficult to navigate. From studying and preparing for exams to campus visits, worrying about the cost, to submitting countless college applications on top of all your studies, senior year can be enough to burn you out!

According to the Nice Senior Enrollment Survey, 59% of high school seniors for the class of 2022 applied to five or more colleges. That’s a lot of time, effort, prep, and anxiety waiting to hear back. It’s no wonder that stress can set in quickly. To not dread the college application process and be drowning in a sea of anxiety, students must work with their guardians and professionals in the community to feel empowered along their journey to higher education.

Check out our guide below to find practical tips for managing stress during the rush of college prep so that you can start the next chapter of your life with ease and confidence.

Don’t Miss Out on Senior Year Fun

Senior year is a special time in your life. It’s a time of self-discovery, soaking up time with your best friends, and taking in the quintessential celebrations of what it means to be a high school senior. From homecoming to the senior ball to the last home football game, these are all moments that you won’t want to miss. 

With everything you have going on, it can make you feel like you don’t have time for yourself and doing the things you love. However, it would help if you didn’t rob yourself of the fun that your senior year entails. Don’t pass up on the fun celebrations; most importantly, don’t sacrifice your passions. This doesn’t mean you have to pack everything into your schedule because that’s not healthy either, but what you should do is pick a few things to prioritize. 

Whether that be your favorite club with your best friend, playing your varsity year on your sports team, or just having a thirty-minute time blocked out three times a week after school to do your hobby. Whatever activity makes you happy, be sure to do it. You need to be able to get away from the stress of college prep from time to time, and most importantly, you don’t want the process to leave you regretting what you missed out on.

Get a Mentor

Seeking the support of a mentor can make a big difference in your college prep experience. There are many ways to find and connect with a mentor. Reach out to colleges you applied to and see if you can be paired with a student in your prospective program that can meet with you and provide you with a campus tour. This will help you get an inside perspective on the day in the life of a student at this college. 

Another great way to get some reassurance would be to find a senior buddy with whom you can meet and share the college prep experience. There are many students at your high school that may be looking for the same opportunity. Try to find someone who may be interested in the same college major or maybe applying to some of the same schools. You can help each other by talking through common experiences and tips and tricks. This may be a great way to make a new friend. 

Lastly, you could also connect with a professional mentor that can help. This can be especially helpful to you if you may be undecided about your major or need some inspiration to help you find your passions. Ideally, mentors are college graduates who have been through the whole process. They can help you narrow down your interests, work on projects that showcase your talent, and help provide direction, which can ease some stress.

Talk Finances

The dreaded money talk could be a significant stressor during the college prep process. Are you worried if you can afford the cost of college? Looking at the tuition cost for a semester alone can leave you with sticker shock, the price for room and board, transportation costs for commuters, and supplies from books to laptops. 

If finances are impacting your decisions and causing you to worry, it is important to sit down with your guardians and talk to them about financial stress and getting into college. Your guardians can help alleviate some of the concerns you have by talking about options that can help you and work for the entire family. Even if money is tight and your family can provide you with very little, don’t let that stop you from sending your application to certain schools. There are other options out there that can help you, such as applying for student loans, using FASFA, scholarships that the university offers for academics, and countless other organizations that offer scholarships that can help you. However, it is important to understand that costs can add up and to look at how much debt you may acquire. By having these conversations about finances, you can go a long way and feel more secure.

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Have a Checklist

Creating a college preparation checklist is beneficial for stress reduction in several ways. Writing down steps in the process can help you have a roadmap in front of you that makes the entire process less scary and more digestible. You can even try doing this on a printable checklist template or a spreadsheet, which can help you get used to using some tools you may encounter in college. 

Whatever method you feel comfortable with, break down the process into headings and subheadings, such as the application process: filling out the forms, getting your letters of recommendation, submitting test scores, and your essay. You can then check off each box as you go along, which will help to ensure you get everything. Each box you check off will help to relieve pressure and see the significant progress you are making. 

As soon as you know it, you will have the majority of things on your list taken care of.  Not only that, but getting into the habit of creating checklists can help you to become efficient with your organization in high school and have excellent management skills at your disposal. Getting organized now will serve you well in the future. Organization is a sought after skill both in academics and the workplace. Think about how you will be able to see your skills pay off by being able to take effective notes for college lectures. There are even work study jobs on campus where you can utilize your organizational tools.

Learn About Self-Care

It is never too early to learn how to practice self-care. Learning how to best care for your mental and physical health during your senior year can help you to cope with stress not only when preparing for college but when you get to campus too. Self-care can help you from getting consumed by stress and prevent you from taking on too much during college prep. 

For instance, are you cramming all night long, trying to get regular assignments done as well as studying for your SAT? Are you spending all your free time writing college admissions essays and feeling like you don’t even have a moment to breathe and be yourself? Having good self-care practices in place helps you not only recognize things that are burning you out but helps you find a balance and get into healthy habits. 

If you don’t know where to start, remember that self-care deserves your time as its’ prioritizing your health. For starters, make sure you are getting enough sleep and not staying up all night. Sleeping enough will help you to be mentally sharp to perform well academically and be well rested for your tests. Not only that, but it will help you with time management skills. Setting aside little breaks in your day to rest and recharge will help you better handle the demands of college. 

However, if you are not used to being able to prioritize your well-being and embracing health-conscious self-care habits, it can be hard to cope. Self-care is new to many people your age. If you do feel extra stressed about college and are struggling with anxiety, and feel like you may need some additional support, that’s okay.

Many seniors are dealing with anxiety and may be going through some similar mental health challenges. It is essential to share your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Talking with a therapist through an online therapy platform could be an excellent outlet for you to get help and feel better. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed for getting some extra support. Combining these things together will help you tackle your stress.

Consult College Planning Experts

Remember, you don’t have to figure out how to do everything independently. Even if you have a family member that went through college that can help you or if you are a first-generation college student, having someone who can guide you through the college prep process can be the support system and team you need. An experienced college planning team can help you throughout your application process, from helping you prepare for your exams to building your college resume to helping you craft and master your admission essays. Not only that, but they can help you to further strengthen and solidify the skill set you will need to be successful. 

Having a team on your side can save you the headache of figuring out how to navigate all the processes and details needed to get into your school. The extra peace of mind and support can help you to better focus on enjoying your senior year and making your experience less stressful overall.

Final Thoughts: Tips for Managing Stress 

It’s time to prevent stress from setting in and taking hold. Although, at first, you may feel like you don’t know which way to turn or are worried if your college admissions acceptance letter will end up in your mailbox, don’t despair. There is so much to be celebrated and hopeful for. By staying grounded, taking care of yourself, and leaning on the great resources around you, you will have a bright future. Instead of feeling stressed, with these techniques, you’ll be able to minimize those unwanted feelings and instead enjoy your college application process.

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