Dear underclassmen, college is not everything


Dear underclassmen,  

As the year’s end approaches, I am willing to bet that college has become a looming concern in the back of your mind. Teachers, parents, and even your friends have begun talking about the process: deciding where to apply, the anticipation of waiting to hear back from schools, and figuring out your future. Honestly, it sounds terrifying. However, I am here to assure you that it is not a complete nightmare.  

For me, college has been on my mind since I was in seventh grade. This is not the case, though, for everyone; some students start thinking about where they want to pursue their higher education during their senior year. There is no ‘right time’ to start thinking about college; it is such a subjective experience, and everyone approaches it differently.  

To answer some questions that you might have right off the bat, the college application process can be extremely stressful. Personally, I felt like the first semester of senior year was one prolonged fever dream, with essay after essay. However, this time is a rite of passage for all seniors who plan to attend college.  

It is easy to psych yourself out during the process, and oftentimes, many students (including myself) have battled with feelings of self-doubt. Feeling inadequate during the college admissions cycle is commonplace, and everyone goes through it. Despite this, you must remind yourself that everything will turn out okay in the end—these words might seem meaningless now, but as a senior who has freshly completed the college process, rest assured that these words will ring true in the near future.  

One of the only activities that helped me maintain my sanity during this time was organizing tools. I have spent hours planning out deadlines and creating checklists to help guide me through the application process using Notion, an online software helpful for note-taking and structure. Even if you are not traditionally a list-maker or an organized person in general, I cannot stress how critical it is to keep track of your deadlines and scholarship applications—especially if you plan to apply to many colleges (for reference, I applied to 19, and I do not recommend).  

Something you need to reiterate to yourself throughout this process is that the decisions you receive are not indicative of who you are as a person or how successful you are/ will be in the future. Colleges choose you based on how well you would fit into their specific schools, and not getting into a university simply means that you belong somewhere else. You will undoubtedly feel all sorts of emotions during this time—excitement, anxiety, frustration, etc.— but remember that you will look back on this time in one year and laugh. Good luck, and make sure to keep your head up.  


Ila Prabhuram