As the summer draws to a close, a new chapter begins.
This is true for all students, but none more so than high school seniors. If you are entering the whirlwind of college application season, you may already be feeling the pressures of school deadlines, murky futures, and expectations from others. I hope that through this blog, I can help calm the storm for you. Whether you are in pursuit of a STEM major, an arts major, or anything in between, here are seven tidbits that you can maybe take with you into your official last year of childhood!
- If you are considering multiple majors/types of schools (i.e. conservatory vs. university), let yourself explore it all. You don’t have to decide until after you apply. If you’re willing to do the work for both, do both! You can even let one application inform another: feel free to recycle or revise essay material for similar prompts. Don’t do more work than you have to!
- If it excites you, go for it! Don’t be afraid of ambition. It doesn’t matter how low the acceptance rate is, or how much of a ‘reach’ you might think it is, because you could have the potential to grasp it without even realizing. I—along with all of my peers—never thought we would end up at Juilliard, yet here we are! In short, don’t evaluate yourself before the school even has a chance to.
- Set a timeline for yourself that’s personal to you. Don’t feel pressured to start early just because your peers are. If you spent some time this summer writing or preparing, fantastic! If not, you are still right on track. I finished about seven college applications between September and November. You still have plenty of time. Just remember to write down all the separate college deadlines (Juilliard’s is December 1) and get the more time-sensitive applications done first.
- Spread the work out. If you look at your applications as one block, it begins to feel overwhelming. Instead, break it up into a series of smaller tasks. For example, tell yourself, “Today, I am just going to write one body paragraph for my essay,” or “Today, I am going to practice my audition material for one hour.” Once you’ve completed your task, leave it for a while, and come back to it when you are ready. It’s much more pleasant and productive to work in small increments than to concentrate on it for many hours. In just two hours a week, you can cover a lot more ground than you think.
- Give yourself incentives. Recognize and thank yourself for all of the hard work you are doing. After you finish a task, do something that makes you happy, whether it is a spa treatment, a favorite food, a good TV show, or a favorite sport. I also found it helpful to work in different spaces. If you get bored in your room, try going to a cafe or library. By simply changing your environment—especially if you get stuck on something in your application—you can feel more refreshed.
- Not knowing is an essential part of college and adulthood. What I remember most prominently about my senior year of high school is the air of uncertainty. It’s sometimes an uncomfortable place to be, but it's essential to discovering your version of success! Let yourself be excited by the many possibilities ahead of you, but don’t feel the pressure to predict or worry. The answers will appear only at the moment that you need them (This is something that I need to constantly remind myself as I prepare for my senior year of college!).
- Remember that there is no such thing as a correct path, despite what others tell you. Success can take many different shapes in many different places. If the ‘normal’ college experience doesn’t feel right to you, look at other options: conservatories, community college, a gap year abroad, or even a job. Success exists in all of these facets. What’s most important is that you find a place where you feel valued, challenged, and inspired. Juilliard has given all of that and more to me, and there is a place out there where you can get it too!
College applications for fall 2020 are now open.