A year ago today, I was busy scrambling to get my life together. I was on the road to recovery after my lung collapse, I had recently submitted my EA for Harvard, and I was struggling to catch up on missed exams, homework, and EC’s. I think the point of this is not so much my personal reflection but it is for those who are going through the process right now: the university application process. Now I don’t know about you, but when I was going through the process and had talked to friends who went through the process, they told me: “In the end, it all works out.” Super cliché and honestly it wasn’t easy to listen to because I didn’t want it to just “work out,” I wanted it to work out the way I wanted to. Whether you’re going through the super stressful process right now or wondering what it might be like. I hope this list I’ve written about can help calm the nerves or provide some insight!
Now here’s my list of what I wish I knew a year ago which is both technical and not so technical:
- Don’t overthink it. I mean yes, you want to plan out what you’re going to write about and how you’re going to answer the questions. But don’t OVERthink it. Last year, what made me more stressed than I was already was that I unfortunately asked too many people on their opinions of my essays. Even though I had asked 5-6 people, it was too much. I actually wrote over 5 essays for my early application personal statement but I was contemplating for most of the time on which one I would use. I became too absorbed by what others thought represented me that I forgot the most important person… myself. At the end of the day, you know yourself the best. Even if you feel that you don’t know completely who you are. Take some time to reflect about what really matters to you. Having people proofread is important but don’t let it override what you think is important. *Also at this point, your grades and test scores are where they are. Don’t critically analyze each grade and feel stressed out about it. What’s done is done.
- Don’t let it rule your life. After October, November was the month where everyone talked about applications. A lot of the things that were dominating conversations were statistics about getting in, the pros and cons of each university/college, our frustrations with the process, etc etc etc… Honestly, once it’s done, it is really done. It goes into a black hole and you won’t really know until early results or D Day comes. But here’s the thing, relax and make up for all the lost time you might have spent studying for APs, SATs, or ACTs. I think the biggest regret I had was that my life in the beginning of Gr. 12 circulated around this process. I didn’t have as much time to spend with my family and friends because I was too drawn in. During Christmas, I was spending most of my break writing my Regular Decision applications. I left early in the morning for the library and came back late at night. I lost a lot of quality time with my family before I left for university. My family and friends all sacrificed a lot on my part. There’s a fine line between prioritizing something and letting it rule your life. Don’t let it rule your life.
- Even if it isn’t okay, it will be okay because you’ll make it okay. After spending a lot of my time counting down the days of finding out the results, guess what? I found out and it was terrifying. I clearly remember how I couldn’t bring myself to open the letter. As if not opening up the letter could save me some time from finding out the truth. I remember walking home and the tears started falling down. It was devastating (and it seems like a joke and a bit overdramatic now that I look back at it) but it was heartbreaking to process something that you had always dreamed about not happening. So as I went home and crawled onto my bed, I remember crying and crying. It was a beautiful sunny day and I felt despicable for crying. But still I cried for three hours and then I got up and got on with what I had to do. I wouldn’t have ever gotten through it as fast as I did, if I didn’t have my friends Jasmine and Amy who were there for me<3 We went through the process and we accepted what we got in the end. We held each other up and spread positivity to get back up. Brings me to my 4th point:
- Have a support system! This is self explanatory but it is really helpful. Even if you end up being successful, it’s still great to have a support group!
- Don’t ever blame yourself. Don’t ever feel ashamed. After initially opening the letter, my mom came to me and offered that we go do something to get my mind off of things. But I couldn’t accept because I felt unworthy. I felt like I failed her, myself, and my family somehow. And that was wrong. It is never your fault for not getting into the university you want.
- Don’t let what others say, get to you! There will be people who are going to be very insensitive during the process. They might undermine what you’ve done or pry into details you might not want to share. They might even critically analyze you like a case study (unfortunately, yes, this does happen). From the moment you send in your application to the moment you get your results, there will be unnecessary comments but want you need to do is stand up tall and brush off the negativity.
- More of a technical one but take interviews seriously. I don’t know where the misconception comes from that interviews aren’t as important. But they are! Especially the early applications ones you get offered. If you don’t do well, that’s okay (it won’t negatively impact you unless you really offend the interviewer, but even in that case you can ask for a second interview). But if you do really well then this can tip in your favour. *Don’t quote me on this however, this was just my experience with the universities that offered me interviews.
There’s no doubt that you’re going to do great<3 All the best to you on your application process! If you have questions, feel free to reach out!