How to Make the College Application Process Less Stressful

When it’s time to prepare for college applications, there are a lot of moving parts, so how do you manage the stress that comes with this? In this article, I’ll cover how to make the college application less stressful to help organize the clutter, inside and out. 


College applications are stressful, and there’s no doubt that when the season for admissions arrives, there’s a lot of nervousness…and anticipation. However, it took a degree of effort and consistency to work up to this point. Once you pull the pieces of your story together, you can make your application stand out. 

I remember when, almost ten years ago, I was a high school senior applying to colleges, and admission rates had become increasingly competitive. Fast forward to when the pandemic happened, which led to many colleges deciding to go test-optional, and admit rates are the lowest they’ve ever been. So, it’s natural to be nervous, but there are factors that you can control. 

In this article, let’s cover some actionable tips for how to make the college application process less stressful

How do I deal with all of these moving parts?

1. Relate your story to your Admissions Angle

College admission counselors want to see your personality–who you are aside from grades and test scores. What sparks your passion and curiosity? Can you self-reflect on your responsibilities and contributions? How do your activities support a potential academic major? For example, maybe you’re really into creating digital art through coding and interested in sociology and computer science.

2. Safety, target and dream schools

To help organize a list of where to apply, think about these categories, which explain your probability of acceptance. A safety…is a safe bet; targets are reasonably probable; and dreams are the most difficult. To help you determine a school’s category, reference your test scores and grades and if you’re within the median range of admitted applicants. 

3. Have your resume ready

A resume organizes your key activities and accomplishments, allowing you to save time and energy when it comes to describing your extracurricular activities. Don’t have one? Here’s how to create a resume for college applications

4. Collaborate and ask for help!

Work on your applications with friends so there’s a shared sense of accountability. Peruse online forums to gain “insider” info about the culture and climate at different colleges. Run your essays by your English teachers. Ask at least a month in advance for recommendation letters. If you know somebody who got into your dream school, ask them how they did it. Chances are, they’re flattered, and they’ll be happy to share.

How do I stay motivated and efficient while dealing with stress?

1. Brain-dumps, assignment calendars, and time maps

Time-management strategies can help with clarification. One type of to-do list to try is a brain dump: just list all of the various tasks that need to be completed for the day or week (instead of trying to recall from memory). For this, you can use the Notes app on your phone (ease of access is key!). 

Then, identify when tasks need to be completed, and transfer those to a calendar (such as a print-out of the current month or a digital tool like Google Calendar). This becomes your assignment calendar. 

Lastly, you can create a time map, where the different days of the week are listed in different columns and the hours of the day (say from 7am to 9pm) are listed in rows. Fill in your have-to-do’s (think: school, practice, study groups, etc.). This way, you can see when you have free time and plan a work session seamlessly. 

When you can see your goals, you’re more likely to follow-through.

College Admissions Services

Schedule a Free Consultation

Meet with a college mentor one-on-one via video chat to talk about your son/daughter’s admissions plan. Afterwards, receive a no-obligation Customized College Roadmap (CCR) with advice on courses, extracurricular activities, standardized tests, and Admissions Angle strategy. 

2. Mindful check-ins and rewards

You’ve heard it before, but it’s so important to take breaks to combat the physical symptoms of stress. Generally, we want to avoid scrolling on social media as a form of rest. Instead, take a moment and ask yourself, “what do I need right now?” When you’re feeling particularly worn down, it can be a sign that you need a snack, a shower, a nap–that which takes care of a bodily need. It’s hard to focus when 1) your physical needs aren’t being met, and 2) your emotions aren’t given space to be expressed. It’s okay to step away to call a friend, water your plant, sketch a drawing, or go for a run. These are all effective ways of giving your body what it needs. 

Contact us to learn more!

College applications can be a stressful time, but there are definitely ways to make the process less stressful. When we feel uninspired, it can feel like we’re stuck. Gain perspective by visualizing the big-picture: what will success feel like? What will it feel like to be finished with your applications? Ground through your senses to imagine the different possibilities. And reach out if you have more questions! 

Recent Articles