SC Blog

3 Ways to Reduce Anxiety in the College Admission Process

Stephanie Rubin, Director of College Counseling
Stress and the college admission process usually go hand in hand, but it does not have to be that way! Read on for just a few simple ways to help your child stay calm during this challenging (and exciting) time.

With news headlines such as “Harvard, Stanford Reject 95 Percent of Applicants This Year,” “How College Admissions Has Turned Into Something Akin To ‘The Hunger Games,’” and “Former Yale Admissions Officer Reveals Secrets of Who Gets In,” it is no wonder that many students and families feel anxious at the mere thought of applying to college. While the competitive national landscape for college admission can be daunting, there are many things that families can do to make the process enjoyable with limited anxiety.

  1. Start Early
    Families that begin to research, and even visit colleges as early as sophomore year, have an advantage in the admission process. With over 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in this country alone, students need to begin to figure out the college characteristics that feel right to them. Learning about different types of colleges will help students begin to identify potential academic areas of interest, size, location, philosophy, etc. By starting their research early, students apply to fewer colleges, creating less work for themselves during their busy senior year. 

  2. Be Realistic  
    Students need to work with an experienced college counselor to create a college list that is balanced. This list should include schools that will be hard for them to be admitted to, schools where admission will be easier, as well as schools in the mid-range. While the only guarantee in the college admission process, is that “if you don’t apply, then you for sure won’t get in,” students do not want to spend countless hours working on applications where the chance for admission is low. Students need to look at each school on their list individually and think, “If this is the only school that I am admitted to, will I be happy attending?” If the answer is no, then that school should be taken off the list. Stress will be reduced significantly if students know they can be happy at all schools on their list.

  3. Keep Private
    Many well-meaning family members and friends will often give unsolicited advice and opinions about the admission process. It is best to limit the number of people who know the intricate details of a students’ college list. It is extremely empowering for students to take charge of their own college admission process, not having to worry what others will think or say about their own personal choices.
Applying to college is an exciting challenge that should be tackled throughout the high school years. When students are proactive, practical, and private in their process, they can find enjoyment and celebration instead of stress and anxiety.
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Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.