College Advice to Juniors from a Post-College App Senior

Elissa Kim ‘20, Staff Writer

Now that the 2019-2020 school year is coming to a close, another round of seniors gets the chance to finally de-stress while juniors scramble to put together their college list. I was in your place exactly a year ago, and let me tell you, I was extremely stressed. How many schools should I apply to? What is my Common App essay supposed to be about? My mind raced with thoughts, as I felt completely unprepared for the upcoming college application season.

Courtesy of Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Courtesy of Grinnell College.

I remember trying to get advice from any and all senior friends I had, but knowledge comes with experience— YOU are in charge of this journey and the college app process is what you make of it. Here are some tips that I gained through experiencing it firsthand, not that long ago.

1. Narrow down your college list.

You can be like me and apply to 15 schools, or you can be like a lot of normal seniors who apply to way fewer than that. Looking back, I applied to schools that I had no interest in attending, and I realized it’s not only a waste of your money but also your time. Look at your current college list and do a little research on these schools (academics, social life, etc.) and think “do I actually want to go here?” Of course, you need to apply to safety schools, but I recommend applying to the safeties that you would still be happy to go to.

2. Make a schedule for writing your essays.

Please do not make the mistake I made and write 20+ essays in the span of one week during winter break. Senior year is stressful and your teachers will still give you a lot of work, so the best way to ensure that you don’t push it off is by creating a schedule and actually following it. Spread out your essays throughout October and November; even if you are too busy to write them, you can also brainstorm for certain essays during your free periods or after you finish your homework and write them on the weekends!

Courtesy of College Transitions, a college admissions counseling blog.


Some of the colleges you apply to will require two or more supplements. These questions are not only about your academic interests but also about who you are as a person! Admissions officers want to accept people that not only fit their school academically but also socially. Some of my best essays were about the most random things, from a conversation I had in Theology class to my love for red-eye flights. Don’t be afraid to write about something weird, as long as you show your personality and connect it back to the prompt. 

4. Reuse and organize your essays.

If you need help with organization during this process, make a Google doc and organize each essay prompt based on each college. Then, color-coordinate similar prompts (i.e. use blue to organize prompts about your major). That way, you are able to reuse parts of an essay for another prompt without having to completely start from scratch! Of course, you should gear each essay to that specific school, but reusing an introduction or conclusion paragraph can make writing essays faster and more efficient. 

5. Don’t feel overwhelmed and find ways to manage your stress!

It’s easier said than done— if someone told me to stop stressing out, I’d probably be a little annoyed, too. As a former overwhelmed, overworked first-semester senior, I can safely say that the college app season moves faster than you think and you will get through it. As long as you write your essays consistently and by the deadline, the only thing left to do is submit and wait. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed, find ways to destress— whether it’s talking to a friend/parent/teacher, painting, scrolling through Tik Tok, or working out, find ways to get your mind off of the college app stress! It may not seem like it now, but everything will TRULY be okay. 

Photo of Marymount graduation. Courtesy of the Marymount High School website.

I hope that at least one of these five tips can help you feel a little more prepared for this upcoming college app season. I must admit, it’s a difficult process, but YOU CAN DO IT! Soon enough, you will be in my place looking back on this bittersweet experience. I wish you, the Class of 2021, the best of luck!