Things People Don’t Tell You About Applying to College… or Maybe I Just Wasn’t Listening


Alisa Leskov

I am just one senior and this is based on my own experiences and experiences that I’ve heard from friends and family members. Not all of this applies to every person but I’m sharing what I’ve learned through the college application process.

1. No matter how much you think you’ll be okay with people asking you where you’re applying, you won’t be. The most annoying part of answering that question is that until your college applications are done, your list of colleges is likely to change pretty frequently, and that answer may not be the same tomorrow. And you will change your mind, trust me.

2.  You are not going to have time. For anything. You will still do everything, but you will not have time for anything. 

3. The Common App is a website and also one singular thing within that website. The Common App itself goes to all your colleges and universities and then you have to fill out individual questions and prompts for each of your colleges.

4. Doing your Common App in the summer does not save you nearly as much time as you think it does. Here’s the thing: the Common App goes to all your colleges, but then each individual college has their own questions and writing supplements that you have to fill out. You can only fill out the Common App during the summer (which doesn’t actually take that long) but you can’t do the tasks for individual colleges because the questions for those change every year. 

5. You will try to clean your room and keep it clean, but your room will not be clean until you finish your applications. There will be stuff everywhere. Mostly paper and tears.

Your parents will tell you over and over again to do your college applications. Chances are, they don’t actually know what that means. Be nice to them anyway because they have to do the FAFSA.”

6.  Ask your teachers for recommendation letters during the second semester of junior year. If you think it’s too early, it’s the right time. Some teachers limit the number of recs they write each year, and their lists fill up quickly. 

7. “College essay” is a misnomer. You will write many essays, including your personal statement for the Common App and supplementals for other colleges. You will dread writing these until you have that burst of inspiration at 3 a.m.

8. You will have a dull headache for several months. Or maybe I have a brain tumor. Jury’s still out on that one.

9. You can indeed run on 25 hours of sleep a week; trust me, I know.

10. People are going to give you lots and lots of advice that you didn’t ask for. It will not be helpful advice. For example, someone will tell you to write your personal statement about the Coronavirus. DON’T DO IT. Look at me- look at me. Do not do it.

11. Most people don’t actually write their personal statement using the prompts provided by the common app. You will probably agonize over figuring out the perfect personal and unique thing to write about. This is why you shouldn’t write about the pandemic. Everyone is going through that and no one wants to hear more about it.

12. Your parents will tell you over and over again to do your college applications. Chances are, they don’t actually know what that means. Be nice to them anyway because they have to do the FAFSA.

13. You will be a little bit sad all the time. I wish I could tell you when that ends but I have yet to get through it. I’ll keep you posted.

14. Honestly, in the end, it doesn’t really matter if you go to an Ivy-league or a community college. This is about you and your life, so don’t let anyone tell you what path you should take. Do what is right for you.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email