When I think back to November of last year, I can’t help but laugh. During this tumultuous time of college applications, I remember feeling a variety of emotions. Overwhelmed with the whole college application process; frustrated with my essays; and worried that I wouldn’t get into any colleges. During these months I was attending a community college in the mornings to receive dual enrollment credit during my senior year of high school and then going to EMT school in the afternoons. Outside of my academic life, I played varsity field hockey and volunteered at a local first aid squad in my town. My life was wholly chaotic and I, to this day, cannot understand how I balanced it all. I’ll be honest; it wasn’t easy. I spent most of my free time in coffee shops studying and writing. I remember writing in my journal how I was afraid that I was inadequate and that I wouldn’t be enough to be accepted into any college. Almost every conversation with my friends was about college applications, SAT/ACT scores, 7/8 year programs, or Ivy Leagues. At one point, I could recite all eleven of the colleges I had applied to better than I could recite the alphabet. It was exhausting, yet when I look back at it all, I laugh. Why?
I remember this one time that I was sitting in a Starbucks rewriting my college essay for the fourth time. My best friend, Judy was sitting across from me. After hour 3 of writing this essay, I slammed my palms on the table and said “I can’t wait till a year from now when I’ll be in college and I’ll be happy. I won’t have to deal with this.” It’s been exactly a year since I uttered those very words, and I laugh because at the time I didn’t realize that I was in the middle of the best moments of my life. If only I had spent the time to pause and reflect on how far I had come and enjoy the time I had as a senior. Senior year is hectic, and the college application process is frustrating, to say the least, but the struggle is part of the process. In the midst of the struggle, you must find beauty. There is something quite beautiful and fulfilling about how I spent hours dedicated to writing a simple supplemental. I feel proud knowing that I put all my effort into writing honest essays about myself and dreaming about what is yet to come.
In terms of balancing academics, applications, and everything else, you must always give yourself grace. I tried to stay organized by making master spreadsheets of college application requirements and making to-do lists. You don’t have to finish everything on your to-do list each day, but you do have to finish at least one thing. Making small goals for yourself to finish a supplemental or finish filling out your FAFSA is a sure-fire way of tackling the mountain that is college applications. Take it day by day. Moment by moment.
The college application process will be quite a challenging time but take a moment to appreciate the pressure that you are under. I know that sounds wholly backwards, but really reflect on the opportunity you are given. You will miss the challenge. You will miss the chaotic feeling. And yes, you will even miss writing college supplementals. My brother once told me that diamonds are made under pressure. Although I rolled my eyes at him when he said this to me, it has stuck with me throughout my college application process and now as I’m beginning my first round of finals. Every stressful situation and every rock in your path is just an opportunity for you to rise to the challenge. Never lose sight of your goals– or your worth–through this process. It won’t be easy, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that when you find yourself in the middle of a dark place, you must keep going.