Applying to college is a lot of work

Submit applications, write essays and visit schools, then repeat multiple times


With the Common Application portal updating for the high school class of 2018 earlier this month, rising high school seniors are busy filling out their applications, writing essays, and visiting schools — it’s a busy time.

Earlier this month I took a trip to Boston and New Haven to visit schools, and I plan to travel upstate to Ithaca and Binghamton at the end of the month. Colleges encourage you to visit if it is geographically and financially possible in an effort to persuade you to attend the school. It is expected that you are enthusiastic about the school. This is documented and applied to their decision making.

The process could be a very stressful for students due to the travel and the required writing: at least five or more essays. Students are encouraged to apply to many schools which could leave them writing upwards of 30 supplemental essays in addition to the Common Application Essay.

Earlier this month, I visited Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale. I previously visited local schools including Baruch, New York University and Columbia. When visiting these campuses, there are two people that present you with information: the admissions representative who leads the information session and the student volunteer who takes you on a tour.

Most of the presentations seemed very similar to me. They inform you about the programs that are offered and boast about their greatness. There is a presentation on the financial aid requirements, which, from what I have seen, are identical. And they all say you how they are “need-blind,” meaning your financial aid application is viewed separatley from your school application.

For me, these information sessions and tours became extremely repetitive. By my third one of the week, I almost fell asleep. However, I continue to travel and sit through these sessions as a way to express my interest in the schools marked on my profile.

All the schools I have visited were extremely impressive. They all have great classes, extra curricular activities and campus life. However, by the time you reach your fourth or fifth school, they all begin to blend together. It becomes difficult to remember which school had the poker class and which had the entrepreneurs lab (MIT and NYU).

Unfortunately for us students, visiting schools is just the first step in the application process. We still need to decide where we want to apply and check if they use the Common Application. The Common Application is one application that is sent to your choice of a large list of schools.

However, there are some schools that do not accept the Common App and require an entirely separate application including the City University of New York schools and MIT. For me, only about half of my schools are on the Common App — meaning I will be filling out several other applications.

Once you decide on where you wish to apply, the real work begins. Essays need to be written and application need to be completed — all while monitoring deadlines. Not only is it a lot of work, but tracking everything gets complicated.

What deadlines are when? What essays need to be written? Which school offers early decision? Early action? Which applications have I submitted? Which still need to be? Beginning with campus visits and ending with clicking the submit button on the final application, this process is a challenge for high school students everywhere.