All over the country, students are burning the midnight oil in an anxious attempt to finalize their personal statement and fine-tune the finishing touches before the University of California application deadline hits on Thursday, Nov. 30.
It’s a nerve-wracking process, putting your heart on your sleeve for the hope of gaining the favor of whoever may come across your perfectly proofread paragraphs and the coveted acceptance package in the mail.
Although it can feel like a consuming and never-ending process, check out these tips to help make the process go a bit smoother and to find rest before you click ‘submit.’
Don’t procrastinate. Senior year can be a busy time of the year! From savoring the last football season with your friends to learning how to drive to balancing AP classes, athletics and extracurricular activities, carving out time to work on your application can feel like a meticulous task. However, if you take 30 minutes each night to work on your application, you’ll feel significantly less overwhelmed than trying to gather all your information the night before it’s due.
Keep in mind that everyone else is also using the same application system as you, and if you wait until the last day to submit your application, you have a greater chance of experiencing a system crash. Nobody wants to spend their Thanksgiving inputting grades from their transcript when they could be eating mashed potatoes and watching cheesy Lifetime Christmas movies. Save yourself the heartache and stress by making it a nightly routine to spend intentional time each night on a different aspect of the application, so you have more than enough time to revise if necessary.
Be kind to yourself. The surplus of self-scrutiny is incredibly prevalent through the application and admissions process. It’s easy to look down on yourself for getting the B in your European History class or spend wee hours of the morning wondering if your story is compelling enough to the university gates to open wide for you. No matter what your past is or what mistakes you wish you didn’t make, you are applying to the University of California, a brave step forward to achieving your academic and personal dreams.
I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t be so hard on yourself. If anyone asked me what I wanted to major in during my senior year of high school and compared it to what I’m doing now, they’d laugh in my face. I changed my major within the first year of attending university, and my dreams are constantly evolving the more I grow as an individual. No 17 or 18-year-old knows exactly what they want to do or gets to where they want to be blamelessly.
Dreams are often not accomplished in a linear process. It takes time, mistakes, and courage to share your story with the University of California admissions team. It’s okay if you weren’t involved with every club or took all AP classes in high school or know exactly what you want to major in. They aren’t looking for the perfect student, but rather laid-down lovers of their passionate pursuit who can carry their story, no matter how messy, with a sense of genuine transparency and excitement toward their future at a university.
Honor your journey. The biggest piece of advice I wish someone gave me when applying to the UC was to take deep breaths. Take it from someone whose college journey resembles Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride instead of the scenic and easy route: everything will work itself out. I’m 20 now, and the application season seems like a midst behind me. The amount of emotional energy that I precariously wasted in trying to outdo myself, stressing myself to the limit for the sake of self-validation in the form of a congratulations letter, was not worth the time I could’ve invested into genuinely enjoying my senior year of high school and allowing my ambitions and self-growth to come organically.
It does not matter how slow your journey takes you, or how many times you need pit stops or Google Maps, or how bumpy the road may be, as long as you do not stop. Don’t be so focused on trying to get accepted into an institution that you forget how to learn and what it means to spark your already natural curiosity and the unique light that only you can radiate.
The anticipation toward Nov. 30 is great, but remember that it’s only one element of your journey. Prepare as much as you can, and ask your friends to proofread your personal statements, but find rest in knowing that there is beauty in your journey and that nobody can reflect that better than you.