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  • Writer's pictureJulie Simon

College Application Overload: When to Reconsider Your College List

I’ve contemplated this post since early applications were submitted and witnessed students’ energy and motivation for college applications wane.

This week, I sent out emails to my seniors with remaining college applications and heard back from several that they were feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and/or experiencing mental health challenges. So, it’s time to address these feelings.

Here’s the deal. This is a ROUGH time of year for seniors. Here is what I’ve been hearing from many of you:

  • You pushed hard to get your early applications, transcripts, and recommendation letters submitted by the early deadline. While relieved to have that initial push behind you, you still haven’t recovered from that stress.

  • All your life, you’ve heard junior year is the most challenging. Then, you become a senior, and your courses are even more rigorous. On top of activities and submitting applications, schoolwork was an unexpected stressor. You’re wondering when you get a break.

  • Waiting is the hardest part. (There’s a reason Tom Petty wrote a song about this.) At the time, you thought writing essays was the most challenging part of applying to college. Now that applications are submitted, you realize the difficult part is waiting for a decision outside your control. You wish you could still be doing something to impact those decisions.

  • You love the holidays. Thanksgiving, football, winter break – everything should be festive, but you don’t feel it because you have big stressors hanging over your head: midterms, papers, deadlines, and, for some of you, more college applications. When will it let up?

Several students have asked me this week if adjusting their college list and dropping colleges is okay; my response to each student has almost always been YES! Why? Because the pressure valve needs to be released. Schoolwork is the priority, so if something has to give, let’s take some applications off your list. Many of my students with remaining applications to complete are for super selective colleges with a very low chance of admission through Regular Decision (RD). Most colleges prioritize Early Action or Early Decision, and their admit rate for RD is ridiculously low. Here are a few examples of the admit rates for Regular Decision:

  • Columbia: 2.7%

  • Cornell: 5.4%

  • Penn: 5%

  • Vanderbilt: 5.3%

  • Washington University in Saint Louis: 9.2%

  • Williams: 7.2%

Is it quitting to remove colleges from your list at this point? Absolutely not. Every one of us has limited time and energy. We must manage our workload, expectations, deadlines, and priorities throughout life. Right now, your priority is schoolwork, commitments to your activities, sleep, and your health. Adjusting priorities means you’re flexing a growth mindset. Building that skill will help you succeed throughout your senior year, college, and career.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, or anxious, please talk to your BCC consultant. We are here to support you and reduce stress. We can advocate for you if you need help talking to your parents about your feelings. We’ve got your back.

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