The College Application Process: No Time for Procrastination

The College Application Process Requires Patience, Persistence, and Preparedness

High school seniors nationwide have commenced one of the most substantial milestones of their adolescent years: The college application process. From August to December, applicants draft their personal statement, supplements and additional essays to submit to their prospective colleges in hopes of getting accepted into their preferred institution. 

Most seniors at Green Hope have already started their applications, and some even started working on them before their senior year.

Vicky Vu (‘23) believes that getting a head start on applications can set college applicants up for success. Laying the foundation at the end of her junior year, Vu had already shortlisted her preferred choice of colleges and narrowed down a major, allowing adequate time to work on each individual prompt before senior year. 

“[College Applications] honestly haven’t been that time consuming in my opinion because I started working on the prompts during the summer,” she recalled. “I also didn’t know that essay prompts change every year sometimes, but all the essays that I started were luckily ones that were repeated for this year.” 

Aariz Khan (‘23) provided an insight on his personal experience on how he prepared for the upcoming months. 

“I talked to people who already applied to schools and who attend college right now – I use them as my resources,” Khan said. 

Additionally, Khan recognizes that each person may have a different experience while applying to college and believes that it is vital to understand that all applicants are on their own journey. “ If you’re applying to five schools and maybe applying early, right now is probably the most crucial time and you’re pretty busy. But if you’re applying regular decision and not applying to as many schools, then you definitely have more time and can manage your time better,” he added. 

The Common Application, widely known as Common App, is an online college application which allows seniors to apply to almost every college in the United States from one place, with the exception of the University of California School System, the University of Texas School System, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many seniors agree that the software has been useful in a multitude of ways.

Joseph Pollard (’23) overwhelmed by tedious college application process. (Zeba Hussaini)

“Now that I’m familiar with it, I think Common App is super easy to use. Everything is in one place, so you don’t have to search for stuff. All the essay prompts are right there as well,” Khan stated. 

“I actually like Common App, it’s easy to navigate and it’s convenient that many colleges are using it for their applications,” added Vicky Vu. “The one annoying thing about it is trying to calculate the hours per week and how many weeks a year for the activities page, because sometimes it’s hard to find a decent estimate for it. But this is something found in pretty much all application portals, not just Common App.”

Many first-year college students reflect upon their college application experience, and some question whether they should have approached the process differently.

Samir Tusneem (‘22), freshman at UNC Chapel Hill and former Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Green Hope Falcon touches on his perspective of the commonly used source.

“I think Common App was straightforward in the sense that it gave you everything you needed to do on a single platform. It also has a feature that allows you to see important information regarding each college’s application, such as fees and deadlines.”

In addition to his reflection on application season, the former falcon shares his advice for seniors who may be feeling overwhelmed or confused by the process.

A prominent issue Tusneem ran into was narrowing down his preferred list of colleges, which prolonged the application process for him. “I found narrowing down my college list to be one of the most difficult aspects as I would sometimes find myself adding colleges to my list a week or two before the deadline. The process certainly took time away from my daily routine as I would have to spend days in the library and on zoom calls with some of my friends doing applications while balancing my school work,” he said.

It is hard to be decisive when it comes to deciding where you want to consider going for the next four years of your career, but it is important to overcome that adversity.

— Samir Tusneem ('22)

However, after creating a consistent schedule by setting aside time to work on applications, doing school work and making time for himself, Tusneem was able to stay organized and efficient throughout the process without feeling too burnt out. 

“I would definitely take more time to come up with a finalized shortlist of the colleges that I wanted to apply to,” he recollected. “This way, you can spend more time on each application rather than less time on more applications, ultimately improving the quality of your work. It is hard to be decisive when it comes to deciding where you want to consider going for the next four years of your career, but it is important to overcome that adversity.”

The alumnus offers one last piece of advice to the Class of 2023 as they continue through the application process. 

“Thoroughly plan out your timeline up until the due date. The last thing you want is to cram essays just a few days before the deadline and not submit work that reflects your full potential. Creating a spreadsheet with all of your colleges, their deadlines, the number of essays and their prompts, and other important information can go a long way in keeping you on track. Also, never feel as if you need to change your language in your essays to be more “formal” or to come across in a “professional way””, he said. “Colleges do not want to see a version of yourself that is not actually accurate to who you are!”

Whether you’re applying to two schools or ten schools, the college application process can be rather grueling, but with the help of resources such as Common App, counselors, or alumni, success is within reach for all students!