College Planning 101


Puja Madgula, Copy Editor, Staff Writer

It is that time of year. No, I’m not talking about autumn. It is the time of year when seniors have to undergo the long and strenuous process of college applications. Students are often confused on which colleges they want to apply to, how to create an amazing personal statement, and most importantly, how to manage their time during this process.

Well, there is no need to fear. College advisors, students and counselors have shared many tips for college-application time.

One of the key issues that is inherent with seniors is time management. Many students seem to procrastinate their college applications until the end, making it overwhelming in the long run.

According to a U.S. study conducted with 1500 students, 74 percent of the students said that they procrastinate because of “online distractions.” As a result, they end up pushing the deadline until more work piles on and it’s too heavy to push any further. How can students solve this dilemma?

For starters, there’s a new software app known as “Stop Procrastinating”. The app blocks certain websites that may be “distracting” or “entertaining” temporarily, allowing the student to focus purely on writing an essay and accessing the internet for educational purposes. The app has received great reviews.

“The really knockout feature is the option to set it to block the Internet on your computer for a period, even if you reboot the machine!” said Nigel Powell, editor of Red Ferret, and columnist for the Sunday Times.

However, Internet distraction is not the only thing that seems to be a problem for seniors. Many are also confused on how to identify what their priorities are, lacking in executive functioning and decision-making skills .

First, seniors need to be able to commit themselves to the process. They shouldn’t be wasting  time meandering on the Internet and wasting your free time with other activities. “It’s just a balancing act in which you as a person has to decide which comes first,” said Vista senior Sarah Darwish.

Even if it’s not a matter of priorities, many students seemed to be too busy to incorporate college applications within their schedule.

“My parents made sure to make me take an easy [homework] load so I can focus on my college apps first,” said  Darwish. “It is nice to be able to balance your college apps with your homework.”

Apart from time management, students also seem to struggle with picking where they want to continue their education after high school.

“If you have an idea of what you want to study, you might want to consider to visit certain colleges if you want to go to a four-year college or two-year college, or if it’s in a location that you like…” said Sierra College’s enrollment specialist, Connie Raynor.

One of the main things that students seem to have an issue with is how to write a spectacular personal statement. How do seniors convey that they are fit for the colleges to whom they are applying?

For one thing, “Just be honest,” said  Darwish. “They want to know you as a person, not as a student in their school.” Colleges tend to look for what sets one student apart from other students — not just academically, but as a person too.

Using these few tips can make filling out college applications easier and less stressful. But no matter what, remember that this is just a small part of the journey; the fun part is yet to come.