By Shira Kalish,
With college application season in full swing, seniors are scrambling to finish the demanding yet crucial process of applying to colleges. They are tackling the task of bundling high school GPA, SAT scores, extracurriculars, teacher recommendations and volunteer hours and tying it all together with personal essays.
“The stress of college apps really affects my life. They make it so that even when I’m relaxing or doing something fun after finishing all my homework, I feel guilty and stressed because I know I have college apps to work on,” senior Sitara Parks said.
Comparing their own progress with that of other students intensifies the already emotionally taxing process.
“I always feel that others are more on top of their college apps than I am, which makes me feel bad about my progress and even more stressed,” Parks said.
For some seniors, this stress manifests physically. Senior Natalie Ries has started getting anxiety-induced headaches for the first time in her life due to college apps. She is also experiencing burnout, which comes with exhaustion and a lack of motivation.
“I normally get burned out when I’m busy and doing a lot of activities, but in this case, it’s just been the stress,” Ries said.
For many seniors, one of the hardest parts of college applications is simply finding the motivation to sit down and do them. Another area of challenge is the discouragement and frustration that comes from struggling to think of creative ideas for application essays.
Many seniors have found that social media, particularly TikTok, can sometimes help alleviate their application anxiety, or at least let them connect with others who are going through the same thing. Many college application-themed TikToks use humor as a coping mechanism.
“[TikToks] I’ve witnessed attempt to turn a stressful subject, like college apps, into comedic relief,” senior Jack Jessen said.
However, not all college application TikToks reduce stress.
“Some succeed in raising a few chuckles, but others not so much. […] I’ve sadly come across a few that remind me of the pain-staking experience of completing college applications,” Jessen said.
Connecting with friends, prioritizing self-care, and setting aside time to unwind can help lighten the emotional toll of this difficult process. But according to Ries, the best thing to do to ease the anxiety is to get the applications finished as soon as possible.
“Creating a timeline for the process and taking time to relax will help alleviate some stress, but just sitting down and working on them is really the best thing you can do,” Ries said.