Balancing Senior Year and the College Application Process

Balancing Senior Year and the College Application Process

Senior year is one of the most exciting times in life: one of applying to dream schools, attending final football games, and laughing with friends on adventures that suddenly feel as if they have an end in sight. 

However, it is also a demanding time, one in which teens must juggle rigorous classes, take on greater leadership roles, and meet important college application deadlines.

Balancing a challenging course load and applying to a hefty list of colleges can seem overwhelming and often feel impossible. Adhering to these three tips will help make this time feel a little more manageable and, hopefully, a lot less stressful.

Make Your Planner Your Best Friend

Just envisioning the workload can make the tasks at hand feel insurmountable. The first step, then, should be dividing up the tasks into manageable chunks and adding them to a smart phone calendar or a paper planner. 

After your teen has divided up tasks, insist they create deadlines, even if they are artificial. That way, they will be sure to have the work completed on time, or even ahead of schedule, and not feel the stress that accompanies procrastination. 

Expect to Constantly Prioritize 

One hurdle that might come up when entering assignments into that planner is concurrent assignments and college application due dates. By this point, parents are masters of prioritization, but teens…not as much. Encourage them to weigh the importance of each task and which ones they should work on when. 

With the past two years being so unique in the education world (and the world at large), many colleges are being open-minded and putting more emphasis on the essay component than ever before

Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education released a statement on Covid, endorsed by hundreds of other schools, that they will be understanding of GPAs that may be inflated or not up to the student’s standard because the numerous effects of the pandemic, and the resume portion likely contains fewer extracurriculars. On top of that, many colleges are now test-optional. 

Therefore, the essays are where students are able to show off who they are and truly make themselves stand apart from their fellow applicants, making it absolutely something to prioritize.

Take This Time as a Learning Experience

Prioritizing and staying organized are two key skills to succeed independently in college. Instead of allowing yourself to feel a sense of panic and overwhelm, try to reframe it as a period of growth for your teen. Faced with balancing tasks, something we do constantly as adults, they will learn how to problem solve, think ahead, and make important decisions.

For instance, using this skill to decide whether to work on a component of an application due that week or a research paper for History due in a few weeks time will be a life lesson they can take with them into college, even if that History teacher makes it seem like the paper should be a top priority. Breaking down tasks into more manageable parts will teach them to push through the worry and keep checking off that to-do list.

As you and your teen embark on this journey, if ever you feel it is too much to handle, never hesitate to reach out for help. Lean on your teen’s guidance counselor if you can, your fellow parents, or experts in the college application process. Then, after all of this is done, bask in the glow of acceptance letters, special senior moments, and treasuring time with your teen.

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