Preparing for college applications: The good, the bad and the ugly


Staff Photo by Erin Sockolof

The sun beams down on the buildings and admissions advertisements at Elon University, located in Elon, NC.

Erin Sockolof, Editor-in-Chief

This time of the year can be quite exciting for many high school seniors all across the country. However, college applications can be stressful for students too.

Melissa Ansbacher knows this all too well. She is a counselor at Wakefield High School and works with students who are going through the application process. 

“Applying to college can be like a job,” Ansbacher said. “And then some people have activities and work outside of school that pull at them.”

Managing such a complex and important task while simultaneously juggling school and work can be a lot for students to handle. So how can they best allocate their time?

“My recommendation would be that you start doing some work the summer before your senior year,” Ansbacher said. “[Don’t wait] until the last minute.”

Xochilt Espinoza Jaen is a high school senior who is currently working on college applications. She plans to attend a four-year college with a biomedical or biology major and then go to medical school. 

“Make sure you start them early,” Espinoza Jaen said. “College applications don’t have to be stressful. You just need to make sure you go into it with a game plan.”

Organization is essential both in and out of school. Students have many different ways to do so, including certain apps, websites and tools, all available online. 

Sarah Joyner is a Career Development Coordinator and frequently works with college-bound students. Part of her job is helping students organize their information. 

“I have a spreadsheet. It’s a tool that you can use to see when the deadline is, whether or not you can apply on Common App [etc],” Joyner said. “It’s kind of a way to visually organize all the places that you’re planning on applying.”

Even the most organized students are often surprised by certain aspects of their applications. These can be things like brag sheets, supplemental essays, super-personal questions, activity lists or certain forms. 

You’re not just handed a career because you went to some school that has a good basketball team and a decent reputation”

— Joyner

Houston Cable is also a senior who is planning on attending college. 

“You kind of have to market yourself to these schools, which is an aspect that honestly threw me off because it’s difficult to try to sell yourself to a school,” Cable said. 

With this being said, one of the most important things to know before starting applications is that you need to be prepared. Colleges will often ask things like why you are choosing to apply to their school, and it’s always a good idea to anticipate such questions. Another thing colleges look for is preparation and organization. 

“Make sure you know where you want to attend and why you want to go there,” Espinoza Jaen said. 

Another important thing to remember is at the end of the day, it will be okay. Most employers won’t care about what college you go to. 

“[Employers] care more about your experiences,” Joyner said. “You’re not just handed a career because you went to some school that has a good basketball team and a decent reputation.”

Regardless of where they are in the application journey, students can take comfort in knowing they are not alone. Even if you feel overwhelmed and emotional, just know that your hard work is about to pay off. 

“There is nothing wrong with feeling really emotional during this experience,” Cable said. “It brings big change so it’s completely normal to feel a lot of different things.”