Students stress about Common Application, faculty/staff give advice

The college application process for seniors is in progress, and it can cause extra stress on the already busy students. The Common Application works to simplify the process for students who wish to apply to multiple colleges. On the Common App, students are able to fill out information and organize their applications for any college they’re interested in in one place, so long as their colleges are registered with the site.

Senior Jillian Sennett is applying to The Ohio State University (OSU) and Ohio University (OU). For the Common App, the amount of time she put into it is “about thirty minutes a day.” Sennett said, “I am relatively stressed. I feel as if I’ve stayed on top of what I need to do for it, but I think the process is confusing, and there’s a lot of anxiety about forgetting to do something.” She thought the Common App process could be improved by being “a little more clear on what we need to get done. I feel as if it’s a little hazy, like we’re not given super clear instructions on what we need to do.” She added, “The most stressful part is the fear of submitting the application when it’s incomplete.” Sennett used a process that could potentially help other students with the application process. “I use any kind of downtime that I have,” she said. “It won’t hurt to just check a few boxes of the application and get ‘er done.” She added, “This is a really hard time for everybody but everything will fall into place and we will end up at the school [where] we are supposed to end up.”

Senior Erica Gumbert is applying to the University of Dayton (UD), University of Kentucky (UK), Northern Kentucky University (NKU), Thomas More College, Morehead State University (MSU), and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). “I’ve put a lot of hours into it,” she said about the Common App. “A few weeks ago, I was very stressed out about it, and so I went to my guidance counselor and she helped me with all of my questions.” Gumbert said that the most stressful part of the application was “the college essay portion because I really wanted to stand out and show that I enjoy writing.” What helped Gumbert work through the Common Application is “setting time aside to make sure I get everything completed that I wanted to.”

Applying to University of Cincinnati (UC), UK, OSU, and Indiana University (IU) is senior James Ehlers. He said he spent “probably two or three hours” on his college application. He said concerning the Common Application, “I’m a little bit stressed.” The most stressful part of the application, he said, was “making sure I have everything done by the deadline. There’s too much.” To improve the application, Ehlers said he would, “make it simpler to use, and use only necessary questions.” Advice he gives to other students struggling with the application is, “just make sure not to wait until the last minute to get everything done and see your counselors when possible.” He added, “Don’t stress too much about it because it’s not the most important thing in life.”

Senior Sami Moser is applying to UC, OSU, UD, OU, and OSC. She said the amount of time she has put into the application is, “Overall, many many hours. I’d guess about ten hours.” “I am very stressed between all of the school work and college work… it’s just too much right now,” Moser said. The most stressful part, she added, was “trying to write all the essays and meeting the deadlines.” Concerning the Common App, she said, “It’s hard because it’s the individual things colleges want. I wish we were told to write the essay earlier, because by the time I was finishing I was near the deadline.” Advice she gives to students struggling with the application is, “I had a mindset that I’d get one college done, then I’d get all the way through it, then I’d work on the next.”

Applying to Miami University, UC, OSU, UD, and NKU is senior Emily Henkes. She said she spent “a solid three days” working on the Common Application. “I’m pretty stressed about the Common App because I’m applying to a bunch of colleges,” she said. She said the most stressful part of the application was “taking the ACT and getting a good score to put onto my application.” Henkes said, “I think every college should have the same deadline so I wouldn’t be confused.” Advice she gives to other students working on the application is, “Definitely break it up. Do a chunk of it each day or each week.”

English teacher Anne Jones offered advice on writing the Common Application essay. “I would say to write something that’s going to make you stand out,” she said. “Write in such a way that your personality comes through because in no other part of the application can they get to know your personality.”

English teacher Julie Muething advised, “It’s better to explain one small topic that you can explain in detail.” Regarding the whole Common Application, Jones said, “Make sure you edit everything,” and she added to make sure not to have misspellings or grammar mistakes.

Director of Counseling and College Readiness Alaina Way advised, “Start [the Common Application] early and do it a little bit at a time. That way you’ll have plenty of time to review it.”

“With the essay, the format should be ‘what,’ ‘so what,’ and ‘now what,’” she said, then clarified, “What are you going to talk about, how did it affect you, and how has it changed how you see the world or what you are going to do differently?” She added, “It’s also important to take advantage of lunch time, study hall time, and time in between school and practice.”

School Counselor Matt Wehrman said, “[Take] it slow and make sure you answer all the questions properly.” Concerning stress management, Way said, “It’s really important to clear your mind at least once a day, whether you meditate or exercise, go for a walk outside, things that help you clear your mind.” Wehrman said, “[Take] a look at your success street guide that we gave you as juniors.” Way added, “If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed… your school counselor is here to see you so please reach out.”

common App
McNicholas seniors apply to universities via the Common Application. Through the Common App., students fill out information on one site to send to the universities they’re interested in.

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