To state the obvious: applying to school—whether it’s college or grad school—is stressful and time consuming. There’s the anxiety about whether you’ll get in to your top schools, the painstaking work of tailoring your application to each school, and the challenge of balancing your applications with existing commitments, like work, activities, friends, and family.
But don’t despair. There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid common pitfalls and make the application process as smooth and stress free as possible.
Tip #1: Make a Plan
It’s tempting to just jump in and start working on the content of your applications—after all, that’s what you’re here to do! But before you begin, take a moment to make a game plan. Map out your deadlines and everything you need to do between now and then.
Overwhelmed? Good! Now you know what you need to do to finish your applications, and you can make a realistic plan about how to get it all done. Set interim deadlines (for when you’ll ask for letters of recommendations, have a draft of your personal statement done, finish your resume, etc.), and block out realistic chunks of time when you can work on each part of the application. This is the surest way to avoid last-minute panic, stress, and dread.
And speaking of last minute…
Tip #2: Give Yourself Plenty of Time
You may be the master procrastinator, used to whipping out papers at the last minute and still getting stellar grades. But your applications are a different beast. There are a ton of different pieces that you need to have a handle on: transcripts, standardized test reports, letters of recommendations, essays, activities lists, writing samples, interviews. There’s no way to pull everything together at the last minute and still have a high-quality product to show the admissions committee.
This is especially true when it comes to your personal essay—an essay unlike any you’ve ever written or will ever write again. Give yourself the time to brainstorm, write, re-write, and edit, edit, edit before you submit.
Tip #3: Make Sure You Have a Support Network
When you’re making your plans, put some thought into how you can get the support you need throughout the application process. This can mean a lot of different things: scheduling downtime with family and friends, finding a buddy to work on applications with, or working with a tutor or other trusted confidant to help you edit your applications and read draft after draft of your personal essay. Do the groundwork to ask for support in advance so you don’t find yourself burnt out or begging your friends to edit your personal essay the week before its due.
There are no simple steps for making the admissions process easy. But following these tips can make it more manageable, less stressful, and more rewarding.
It’s easy to be intimidated by the idea of applying to college. The process is long, confusing, and more competitive than ever. But it doesn’t have to be that way. At Cambridge Coaching, we’ve reimagined the entire process, and we are pleased to introduce an entirely new way of applying to college. Instead of focusing purely on cold, calculated application strategy, we like to think of college as the ultimate motivation to reach your potential, both as a student and as a member of your community. We’ve found that if you can see how this crazy process is actually helping you to lay down a foundation for a lifetime of learning, creativity, and accomplishments, it’s so much easier to stomach all the work involved. That’s why our coaches don’t just help you with application strategy. Unlike our competitors, we know that it’s not essays that make a great application - it’s the stuff you put into your essays. Which is to say: it’s the work you do all along the way.
We take a holistic, comprehensive approach to the college process. Well before you’ve even contemplated your college essay, we’re here to think about the steps you can take so that you have the most fulfilling high school career possible. Our ideal time to link students with coaches is in the freshman or sophomore year of high school, though we are happy to help you whenever you are in the process. Whether this means pairing a student who is struggling with physics with an MIT Ph.D. who loves physics more than anything, or sitting down with families to discuss summer plans, we mentor our students through every stage of the process. Our coaches know what it takes to get into the best colleges in America because they’ve all done it. More importantly, they know what it takes to make high school interesting and rewarding, so that your essays, when you get there, will reflect the integrity of your efforts - and the breadth of your dreams.
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