The Hardest Part of Applying for College: Mindset

Student Wellness
January 20, 2020
Applying For College Can Be Incredibly Overwhelming…

The truth is, our brains tend to freak out when presented with an abundance of options, choices, and decisions. Unfortunately, the college application process itself is full of important choices: where will you go, how will you apply, what extracurriculars should you mention, and how do you even write a supplemental essay?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the questions you need to find answers to, know that you’re not alone. The article title is truth in advertising: the hardest part of applying for college really is getting yourself in the right mindset. Once you’ve convinced your brain that it’s not only unnecessary to obsess over every detail of the process, but also very unhelpful, you’ll be able to spend less time worrying and more time calmly preparing for your life at college!

What You’ll Find In This Article

The Importance Of A Good Mindset

Take a moment and picture yourself doing something you love. It may be your favorite hobby, having a long conversation with a loved one, or learning something new for the first time. Often, when we do things we enjoy, we find ourselves in a positive mindset without having to try. A good mindset makes it easier to handle stressful situations, improves our focus, and builds our self-confidence.

While it may not be possible to get yourself in the exact same mindset applying for college as you would have when hanging out with friends, the same benefits of a positive mindset apply. If you approach filling out applications or searching for colleges with a sense of dread, the process may end up being much more difficult.

A good mindset is important because it helps you see the college application process as just that: a process, rather than a measure of your self-worth or accomplishments.

Your Mindset At Each Stage Of The College Application Process

Taking a step back before you start thinking about going to college, whether you’re a freshman in highschool or a senior in the middle of your applications, can help you get in the proper head space. When you’re stuck in a rut of thinking about how overwhelmed and stressed out you are, you’ll only make the problem worse.

Fortunately, there are ways to get yourself in the proper mindset for applying to college, and this can help make the college application process a lot less stressful.


As an underclassman, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking about how much time you have left before you apply for college. However, it’s essential that you begin working toward your college education and the application process while you’re still an underclassman.

During your high school years, get yourself into the mindset that your education matters. The grades you make during all four years of high school will help determine how the college application process goes for you. Generally, the better your grades are, the more likely you are to receive admission to the colleges you apply to.

Therefore, your first two years of high school will be best spent getting yourself into a healthy learning mindset rather than stressing out about your college choices. Take the time to figure out the study habits that work for you. Good study habits and note-taking skills will help you more easily transition to a college-ready mindset when the time comes.

While you’re at it, figure out what type of help is best suited for you when you’re struggling academically. Some students may prefer one-on-one help with a tutor or helpful peer, while other students may prefer their help in the form of online courses or self-study.


As you begin researching which college is right for you, make sure you approach the task with the proper mindset. With so many different colleges and universities to choose from, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed by all your options.

One of the most essential things to remember when searching for colleges is that your choice should be centered less around which school is the most prestigious, and more focused on which school is right for you.

Don’t discount colleges solely based on how well-known they are. Keep an open mind and search for colleges that will best meet your needs, both academically and personally, to help lower the amount of stress you feel while you decide which colleges to apply to.


Managing stress during college applications is a tall order, but there are strategies you can use to keep yourself on track and take some of the pressure out of application season. While everyone has different ways to keep themselves in a positive, future-focused, and ambitious mindset, here are a few tried and true strategies that can help:

  • Give yourself ample time to fill out applications. Start working on your applications and college essays well before the deadlines, even if you won’t have everything you need (such as transcript and test scores) until later. Keep a running list of your extracurricular activities, achievements, and essay ideas until you can sit down and actually fill out your applications.
  • Reach out for help throughout the application process. Whether you need help from a peer going through the application process themselves or the insight of a college counselor, reaching out when you begin to struggle can help alleviate some of your application-related stress.
  • Use techniques to prevent overwhelm. For some students this may mean tackling each application one by one, while for others it will mean finishing the majority of their applications at the same time. However you choose to split up the application process, take time to consider which parts of the process are causing you the most stress and focus on those areas first.


Senioritis can become a serious issue after hitting the ‘send’ button on your college applications. While it’s never healthy to obsess about your applications or your grades, make sure you stay involved and invested in your final few months of high school. It may seem possible to coast to the finish line, but it’s always more advisable to use the final days of high school to help you prepare for the transition to college.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t enjoy your hard work! Take time off to enjoy senior year traditions at your school, spend time with friends, and engage in the hobbies and activities that leave you feeling energized and excited.

Not only do you deserve the fun and excitement of your senior year, but taking the time to enjoy yourself will make waiting to hear back about your college applications immensely more bearable.


When receiving your admissions decision letters, you’ll often find yourself feeling a range of emotions for every different letter. Above all, remember that the college admissions process is not personal. As we touched upon earlier, the decisions you receive are not a reflection of your intelligence, self-worth, or value as a student.

Once you’ve taken some time to process your decisions, it’s time to refocus and hit the reset button on your mindset. Talk with your college counselor and family to help you take the next steps in your plan. Reach out to your friends, peers, and teachers for support and advice if you’re struggling with your mindset.


When you’ve finally made your choice of college, it’s time to both celebrate and prepare! First, take time to congratulate yourself for your hard work. Getting into college is no easy feat, and going into college with a grateful and positive mindset will help make the transition easier.

Then, remember that you have plenty of time to prepare yourself. Enjoy the rest of your days in high school and take some time to daydream about everything the future holds. Going off to college is one of the biggest changes and challenges in your life, but it’s also one of the most exciting adventures you will ever go on.

College Application Stress Is Avoidable

In the end, there’s no way to completely take the stress out of the college application process. However, by always giving yourself plenty of time to prepare and put yourself in a better mindset, you can eliminate a majority of the stress.

To put yourself in a good mindset for your college applications, it’s important to always keep your goals front and center:

  • Why are you applying for college?
  • What do you want to get out of going to college?
  • How do you feel when you imagine walking across the stage with your diploma?

Even when you remind yourself of the answers to these questions, there are times when the college admission process can begin to feel like a struggle. There may be parts of an application you’re not sure how to handle, or you may not know how to create a balanced list of schools to apply to.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with all of these details, our WeAdmit counselors would be happy to help. We’re experts in helping students approach the college admissions process with a balanced, yet ambitious approach, and we know that sometimes you just need a bit of guidance to get yourself in the right mindset!

More than anything else, we’re here to remind you:

Applying For College Doesn’t Have To Be Stressful!



Need more Information?

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