Sending applications to universities you hope to study at should be something exciting. It’s a new chapter of your life that should bring you happiness. For many people, unfortunately, the experience can be stressful and chaotic.
Application rejections can be a big blow to students who have a dream university in mind. It’s a tough life out there for our young friends.
With heavy competition and limited opportunities, high school students and graduates have a challenging time ahead of them. According to the American Psychological Association, teens report experiencing stress that exceeds healthy levels. The last thing we want is to exacerbate the situation.
Unfortunately, universities, with their different requirements, formalities, and often unreasonably short deadlines, don’t make things easier. Thus, it becomes critical to know how to manage the entire application process without floundering.
After all, university life isn’t going to be a cakewalk either. Today, we will look at three key areas that can help make the experience simpler.
1. Research Extensively and in Advance
The biggest reason that stress and anxiety occur is due to a lack of preparation. This is true in any area of life. A lot of people sensibly start to think about university options as early as their entry into high school. It may seem too early, but it is the right way.
However, research and preparation in advance is important, not just for high school students. Even if you have completed your bachelor’s and are applying for university graduate programs, the same applies.
In fact, some would argue that you should be doing even more prep work. A postgraduate degree isn’t something to approach lightly.
Knowing what universities are expecting and looking for will give you an edge over your peers. For example, here are three areas that you should be looking at:
- A list of universities that match your academic and career goals
- The course curriculum, faculty qualifications, and research opportunities.
- The requirements for each university you hope to apply for, i.e., GPA, essays, letters of recommendation, etc.
These are but a few examples of what you should be looking at. Remember, for recommendation letters, it can take longer to get them than you think. The last thing you want is to find out that the teacher or professor is sick or out of town. Be wise and have them done much in advance.
2. Have Backup Plans and Safety Schools
Regardless of how confident you are in your chance of making it into your dream university, backup plans are important. These are commonly referred to as ‘safety schools.’ They typically refer to any university that has acceptance rates of above 75%.
If you are confident enough to apply for something better, your scores will almost guarantee admission to a safety school.
Some go another route and consider applying to their top-choice university as a transfer student. This is usually possible if you complete a year or two of coursework at another institution, perhaps a community college.
You could also consider a gap year program. This can give you time to build up skills and rework your university applications.
Lastly, don’t overlook alternative career paths. You would be surprised at how attractive a career in the trades can be. Did you know that plumbers and electricians can make upwards of $60,000 a year? That’s quite good if you aren’t planning on living in one of the big money-hungry cities.
3. Set Realistic Expectations and Take a Bird’s Eye View of Education
At the end of the day, your eligibility for a university will depend on how well you meet their criteria. If you find out that you didn’t meet their expectations, try not to get flustered. You can’t win them all.
Remember, some universities may just be running on their past reputations while feedback from recent students paints another picture. Always find and speak to recent alumni about their experience. You may realize that your dream university isn’t that great after all.
Similarly, give some attention to what you expect to gain from your course. Are you looking for an education that offers more practical than theoretical work? If so, some universities do it better than others.
Kettering University’s ‘learn today – use tomorrow’ approach is a popular example. There’s no point in attending a university that’s all theory if your major requires skills in practical and real-world applications.
Whether you are a high school student or a graduate thinking about a master’s, proper planning is key. It can be impossible to handle things if you leave things till the last minute. Most of the time, you end up recruiting your family to help, and it becomes a huge logistical mess.Instead, start early. Online communities such as Reddit are filled with useful information that you can peruse at leisure. Early prep work also helps set a good precedent by getting you used to staying well-prepared and ready for university.