5 Stages of Applications

By Brendan Conway updated on Thursday, August 01, 2013

Stage 1: Terror.

'LOOK AT ALL OF THIS STUFF! I'M NEVER GOING TO GET IT DONE!' Freaking out. Insanity. Lots of hair-pulling.
Solution: Deep breaths. Ice cream. Chocolate. Shoving your head in the freezer for a bit. You may have a lot to do to get to the other side of the application process, but all you've got to do is buckle down and focus, and you'll get through. Though the ice cream helps.

At this point, crazy as it may make you feel, the right move is to just get a clean and clear understanding of all the things you have on your plate. The first step to climbing a mountain is measuring it. Or, something.

Stage 2: Initial work.

'Oh, this isn't so bad. I've got plenty of time!' Relaxation. Procrastination. Lots of Angry Birds.

Solution: This is the exact reverse of the first stage. At this point, you've begun to realize that you might actually have all this insanity in hand. You know what you have to do, and you've started to work on it, and it's become clear that it actually won't take you the rest of your natural lifespan. Which is great!

And it means you're all the likelier to start putting some work off.

Don't let that happen! No, it's not insurmountable, but this mountain isn't going to climb itself. You've gotta keep your feet moving if you want to get to the top. You don't have to run, but you certainly can't just sit still and listen to the alluring call of the Internet, for instance. Keep the work up.

Stage 3: In the thick of it.

'So…much…work…so…tired…can't…keep…going…' Exhaustion. Can't see the end. Drowning.

Solution: Take a step back. All things in moderation. You've got to push yourself forward through those initial steps, but now, you're likely in the midst of your senior year of high school, trying to keep up with all your courses while still doing plenty of work on your applications. Don't drive yourself to insanity by overworking yourself.

Moderate. Know what you need to have done when, and plan accordingly. Give yourself some extra time on your deadlines, so that if anything goes wrong, you've got some leeway for dealing with it.

This is probably the hardest stage in the process, and the most important. You'll get through. Get those essays done. Ask for those recommendations. Prep for those tests. Keep up with your school work. You'll get to the end before you know it. The mountain's peak is waiting for you -- you just have to get through the storm.

Stage 4: The final stretch.

'I can see the end! Almost there! Just one more application to send off!' The culmination of everything. A little bit of all the issues of the other stages, wrapped up into one.

Solution: Just as the problems when you're so close to the end are fragments of the problems you've faced previously, the solutions are the same. Feeling panicked? Deep breaths. Keep calm. Plan. Feeling like you can procrastinate because you're mostly done? Make sure about that. Check your plans. Keep at it -- you can procrastinate when it's all over. Feeling like you're just too overwhelmed with all your work? Take a short break and figure out exactly what you need to do next.

At this point, the peak's in site. You've just got to keep pushing on. You're almost there, and at the top of the mountain, they've got cookies! And ice cream! And magic! So get there!


Solution: None. You rock. Well done. Now go have yourself those cookies and ice cream. You've earned them.

About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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