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Overwhelmed By College Application Season?

Stephen Friedfeld, PhD

Overwhelmed by College Application Season?

By Stephen Friedfeld, PhD

The summer flew by and somehow you’ve already started your senior year of high school – it feels important and you want to make the most of it. Then wham, you realize you didn’t spend enough time on your college applications this summer. Don’t panic! Spending a little time organizing will set you up to get everything completed on time. How? Read on:


1. Make a requirements and deadlines list. Whether you use a spreadsheet, doc or good old fashioned paper, writing down what you need to get done and what deadlines you need to meet will set you up for success. Feeling like you’re watching an endless stream of things to do fall into a black hole is much more anxiety-provoking than taking time to record a finite list of tasks and deadlines.


Not sure where to find the information you need? Search the university name and “apply” to find requirements and deadlines. You can also find most of what you’ll need on your Common Application dashboard. And don’t wait until the last minute to ask your teachers for recommendations!


2. Prioritize. Are you applying Early Decision, Early Action or to a university that has an early deadline? Work on those applications first and then move on to your Regular Decision applications. Compare application deadlines with school work and testing deadlines so you have plenty of time to complete your applications without interfering with what’s most important – your high school classes.


3. Write your essays over time. If you’re the type of person who wants to write once and finish, this one will be difficult, but you’ll be surprised how much writing a little bit at a time eases the process. Why sit for hours painfully trying to complete an essay when you can give yourself more manageable goals? If you have a half hour, plan to work on one paragraph and move on. When you come back to it, your ideas will be clearer and you’ll see where you need to add and edit.


4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Connect with your school counselor, teachers, family and friends. Know someone who is really organized? Ask them to help you stay on track. Not sure where to find the information you need? Someone who has been through this before can help connect you to resources and give you useful tips as you move through the process. A college counselor like those at AcceptU can help you stay on top of deadlines, give actionable advice and insider information on the application process.


5. Keep perspective. You’re going to feel pressure as you work on college applications, even if you’re organized. That’s why it’s important to focus on what all of this is for. Remember that you are choosing your best fit college as much as they are choosing you. You’ve accomplished so much. This is your chance to share your voice, interests and goals. Keeping perspective will help you avoid folding from the pressure and maybe even allow you to enjoy the application process as part of your college journey.




Stephen Friedfeld is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.

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