The semester has been able to turn on a more positive outlook. I feel every semester that you are going to have of college, a part of you always matures. Think of yourself being a plant or a tree that only grows and grows—your branches, leaves, roots, so much rooting indeed.

This semester, even though my mental health has not been at its best, I have been able to cope through the help of my closest friends by talking about it. I realized this semester that speaking about your problems with others always helps. Maybe is the sense that we need somebody else to validate our feelings. We feel that our emotions are not universal and therefore not understood, but when someone does understand us, we feel at peace with ourselves.

I have been able to remain on track and that includes working two jobs, five classes, writing for the newspaper, applying for internships and summer programs, while still having time to exercise at least three times a week and have some self-care time, which may imply going out with friends to eat or simply have some alone time (I always feel the need to mention everything I am involved throughout the semester, do not ask me why). I just do. I feel proud to be able to handle everything and still remain being a semi-decent person. I have no idea.

If you think the college application process is long and painful, just get yourself ready, because applying for anything, a program you’d like to do during the summer, internships, grants, scholarships, study abroad, all has an application component with letters/references, résumé, cover letter or personal statements, and other bureaucratic document or material, etc. I have lost count of how many personal statements I have written and re-written over my time in college. I have lost count how many times I have surveyed and edited my résumé. I have lost count how many times I have asked somebody to write a recommendation on my behalf. It has been so many times. So, see the college application process as a tidbit of what college and life from there will be all about. Embrace the process, though, because whenever you finish one of those monstrous applications, you do feel an exceptional sense of accomplishment and you should, you are forging your path in life.

In fact, I, aside from going through that application process at the moment, that of applying for internships, I am also going to start preparing for a big application season, which is coming my senior year. You may think, why now? Nonetheless, I am a junior and I should start thinking about that as soon as possible. Next semester, I am going abroad, and I plan to spend a good portion of my winter break planning on what I want to apply senior year, writing down deadlines, and making sure I have clear in my mind what sort of materials I will need. For example, I want to apply for a graduate program and the application asks me for two academic papers, so I want to have them polished and/or I’ll probably have to translate some of them myself, since a few of the papers I feel the proudest of are in Spanish. I’d like to have that kind of reminder on my radar so that when I come back to Brandeis University the next fall, I do not start freaking out. If you are interested in getting something, look up the steps and what you’ll be needing in order to go and get it. The sooner you can start, the better. Planning can take you to unimaginable places.

I also plan on applying for this big, prestigious scholarship, that I’d like to keep nameless for now, and I need to start reading a couple of books to be more prepared for if I am offered an interview out of it. Thus, I am also planning on getting those books during winter break and take them with me to The Netherlands and, of course, read them. Things like that, you should always be on the look out. Make the best of every single college year, get the most experience out of everything and apply, apply, apply to as many things as you possibly can—although make sure you have a certain level of interest, do not apply just for applying.

I am sure your applications are turning fine. Yes, it can be stressful, but always plan ahead, write down a list of the components the application is asking you for and be on top of it. Go back to check your “To do” list constantly, making sure everything is in order. If a teacher is taking long on submitting a recommendation, send them a friendly reminder, that always helps, tell them the deadline is coming soon. Be as proactive as you can! In addition, remember that for how tedious the process may seem right now, you are going to see how worth it is all. College will open you so many doors, people, and it will equip you for many things to come later in life. Though, you will not learn everything you need to learn in the classroom, but it is a good start for sure. That is why, get those applications done, press sent, and just wait, let the future come to you.

Best of luck,

Santiago Montoya