The Struggles Of College Applications (And How To Work Through It)


The Common App is the most ‘common’ application that colleges accept.

As the new school year gets underway, almost every senior has been to a meeting about the college application process. All of a sudden, it feels like we have to narrow down our choices, write our essays, and submit everything we’ve ever done into Naviance, the Common App, My-Coalition, and/or each college’s own submission process. Raina Shroff, who is going to college to major in architecture and film, said to me, “It feels very rushed. Very stressful. If you’re applying early to any schools, you have an even sooner deadline, especially if those schools require auditions or portfolios.” 


The rush to finish college applications by either the early action deadline (around November 1st) or the regular decision deadline (around January 1st) has begun. At best, students have three months to start working, and at worst just over one month. As Rania put it, having to put together portfolios or even audition for a spot at a college makes the process a lot more difficult.


“I would say that going in as a music major, I’ve had to figure a lot of stuff out on my own,” Carissa Dienes, who’s going to college to become a music therapist, told me. “The advice they give is more tailored for people going for general non-music majors like bio or psych, and the requirements are so different.” This is a common sentiment amongst people who are going to college for majors that require more than traditional applications, including sports, music, or theater. With extra requirements to get into college, they have to add to the already stress-inducing amount of work. 


However, whether a person needs a portfolio or not, there’s another common sentiment among many students. “There’s a lot of resources to help you, but they always seem too busy to help every student, so it doesn’t really help,” was how Raina put it. “Ultimately, I would have liked it if they had like a night talking about music/portfolio preparation for art and music students like last year talking about more of the requirements, what to consider, etc” was how Carissa put it. With everyone needing help all at once, it can feel like a race against not only time but against 671 seniors in order to get your questions answered and needs met. This rush also makes it harder to get letters of recommendation from teachers, since one teacher could be writing letters for dozens of students at any given moment.


However, there are steps that can be taken in order to make the panic of college applications a lot more manageable. As mentioned before, most seniors have already been to a required college application meeting in the Little Theater. As a part of this meeting, every student received a written guide to the application process. This packet contains important information on not only what’s needed in order to submit an application, but also important deadlines for requesting information. For instance, you need to request transcript at least 15 school days before the deadline, and request your teacher’s letter of recommendation at least a month before the deadline. Speaking of the teacher’s letter of recommendation, it’s important to ask verbally if the teacher wants to write the letter, followed by emailing them about it at a later date. This is so if they need anything from you, you can simply email them the requested information. 


One of the other hardships of the college application process is writing essays, short answer-questions, and supplemental material. Try finding the prompts/guidelines as early as possible, then give yourself a week to complete your initial draft. After finishing each draft, take a few days away from writing, so you can approach the essay with new eyes. This will help you create the best essay possible.


Senior year is overshadowed by the knowledge that this will be the last year of mandatory schooling for the class of 2023. In June, seniors will be walking at graduation, maybe with an idea of what they’re going to do next.