Strategies for Managing Your Anxiety When Applying to College

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female student looking at the camera smiling

Strategies for Managing Your Anxiety When Applying to College

Stress and anxiety are common for high schoolers during the college admissions process. The transition from high school to college is challenging, daunting, and momentous. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re alone, despite millions of other students being in the same situation. Learn more about tips for managing anxiety.

Here, we’ve identified some ways you can reduce your anxiety levels when applying to college. This way, you can cut down on the stress while putting your best foot forward in the application process. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this! Let’s get started.

1. Create a To-Do List to Stay Organized

For almost all high school senior year students, the fall semester is the worst when it comes to stress and anxiety. There is that urge to keep up with scoring good grades while also polishing upon personal statements, and all this time, you’re expected to apply for colleges. Yikes!

There is so much for you to do that it is easy to get buried in tasks. Many students end up feeling overwhelmed by the mounting pressure. Of course, this can be very stressful. One way to prevent this is to create a realistic to-do list.

View of an unidentified person answering an exam.

The list should feature all the tasks that need to be done, and it can include setting a time frame for each task to avoid unrealistic expectations of yourself. Scheduling a time to do things is also a way to ensure that you complete all the tasks. It helps to stop procrastination.

Failure to create a to-do list can and will make any student overwhelmed. You’ll always feel that there is too much to do but too little time, leading to increased anxiety. In addition, the only way for you to know the magnitude of your tasks is by putting them down on paper.

If they only exist in your head, they can create a delusion of simplicity or make you feel overwhelmed. Either way, it’s always better to have a clear idea of what you need to do.

2. Ask for Help From Family and Friends

Students need to ask for help from those they can rely on and trust. This is especially true for a teenager juggling school, exams, and college applications. It is even more important to ask for help when applying for colleges. It is a lot of pressure to go through this all by yourself, no matter how prepared you are.

Therefore, it will be beneficial if you can ask your family and friends to help with the tasks that come with college applications. Family and friends can help create motivation by giving advice, suggesting ways to improve an application, or even proofreading your writing.

The help will come in handy for any senior year high school student who feels like they are at the end of their ropes. It’s important to remember most parents or guardians have traveled that path before. Never think it doesn’t matter.

3. Take Breaks When You Need to

Taking a break will allow your mind to rest and not get overwhelmed by the magnitude of tasks that need to be completed. Breaks can also improve concentration, which is very important in writing essays, filling in college application letters or personal statements, or even maintaining grades. It prevents you from feeling overwhelmed which can quickly lead to anxiety, stress, and even depression.

a smiling college student holding her phone and credit card

When you are approaching burnout, it’s wise to take a momentary escape. Breaks will help you catch your breath and regain your stamina to handle your tasks with ease. You will also be able to concentrate more on the tasks at hand.

Breaks are an essential part of maintaining productivity and quality. There’s no reason to continue preparing your application if you can’t produce quality work due to high stress and anxiety levels. Breaks are essential for recharging your batteries.

You can also meditate and reflect on your thoughts during this break if you like to turn inwards to regain control and calm (more on this later). It can help to gather clarity on tasks ahead while encouraging focus as you block out distractions.

Another strategy is finding a distraction, such as playing video games or watching a TV show while doing something you enjoy. It will allow your brain to relax and give it room to reset, allowing concentration to improve when you return to your tasks. These distractions are especially effective when it comes to enhancing positive moods.

4. Don’t Forget to Spend Time Doing What You Love

This is another classic addition to the tips for managing family anxiety. It can be easy to get caught up in the process of applying for college and forget that life is more than academics. Therefore, you must remember to spend time doing what you love. Applying for college is important, but you shouldn’t let it consume your life.

If you love playing football or basketball, for example, do not forget about your passion just because college applications are due. Try to keep up with your passion even if you have other obligations. Get outside, meet friends, do the things you enjoy. Trust us, it makes a big difference.

It will help your brain continue working on the tasks at hand despite the stress and anxiety they cause. It will also allow you to relax more during breaks since you will not be distracted by unnecessary things.

Doing activities you love can release endorphins into your system. This will, in turn, repair your moods and help your mind relax, allowing you to return to your tasks refreshed. There is a reason why people who work out in the morning feel a sense of renewal and energy. Steal a play from their notebook when you’re applying to college!

5. Think About Your Academic Goals for Motivation

At first, applying for college may seem overwhelming. There are many things to do, and it often feels like you’re running around in circles doing the same thing repeatedly. It becomes repetitive until you can no longer keep up. A crucial way to manage your tasks is to remind yourself of your goals and what you have set out to achieve.

Of course, one of the main goals is to get into college, but beyond that, there should be a reason why you want to go there in the first place. For example, if you want to go to a medical school, there must be a reason why that school is the best fit for you. Think of it, why do you want to go to that particular college?

a male student reading a book in between shelves inside a library

What makes this college a better fit for you than the others? Remembering these questions will help to remind you why it is so essential for you to get into college. It will also give motivation when you feel like quitting. Remembering why your goals are so essential will help keep you focused on finishing what needs to be done.

It would be best to remind yourself why you hang on for so long. You can’t afford to quit while nearing the end of the race. Remind yourself of the sacrifices made to get where you are, either by you or your parents or guardians. The only way it’s worth it is if you keep hanging on to the end.

Remembering your goal is also associated with a strategy called positive visualization. Many people are familiar with this concept, where they imagine what they want to happen before the event occurs. Though it might seem like one is just pretending, positive visualization can help to increase focus and improve confidence. It can also be one of the best tips for managing anxiety.

6. Talk to Friends Going Through the Same Thing

By talking to and spending time with your friends who are going through the same thing as you, you will be able to relieve some of the stress and anxiety you feel. In return, they will lend a hand in times of need.

These are people with the same feelings as you. They’re experiencing something very similar, and most likely, experiencing some stress and anxiety too. Just sharing that shared experience can make a difference in your stress levels.

Some of your friends might even have some handy tips for managing stress that you didn’t think about. If anything, hanging out with friends is a good way to let loose and distract yourself from the weight of the college admissions process.

Never underestimate the power of talking or spending time with friends. It’s easy to get caught up in your own little world when applying to college. Don’t forget too that many of your high school friends are going to go to a different college than you. This might be one of your last times to hang out with them regularly. Make the most of it!

7. Reflect on Your Fears & Understand Them

Fear is a common source of anxiety, especially during the college admissions process. It’s not the only source of stress, but it’s definitely something high schoolers should consider when looking at tips for managing anxiety.

Sometimes, high schoolers are so concerned with applying to college, they forget to address the underlying fears that come with this momentous transition. There’s a lot riding on this, and it’s perfectly natural to feel a bit overwhelmed, nervous, and scared.

When ignored, that fear is only going to present itself in other negative emotions such as anxiety and stress. It’s simply not going to disappear or resolve itself. Approach your fear head-on with enthusiasm, determination, and the willpower to resolve it. No one ever killed a snake by running away from it. You can’t outrun your fears.

When you reflect on your anxieties, you will see that they aren’t anything much but insecurities. They are natural and normal and sometimes even unavoidable. Don’t let your fears win. The more you face your fears, the freer you’ll feel.

8. Do Meditation, Yoga, or Something to Calm Your Thoughts

When you’re applying to college, it can feel like your mind is a non-stop hamster wheel with new thoughts popping up every few seconds to keep the wheels turning and turning and turning. One of the best tips for managing anxiety is to give your mind a rest.

Calming your thoughts gives your mind a break from the excessive worrying it’s been doing since you started applying to college. Taking even a few minutes out of the day to actively give your brain a rest can work wonders for your stress levels.

a woman thinking and holding a pen and notebook

There are a number of different ways to achieve this state of inner tranquility. For example, meditation has been proven to boost mood and reduce stress. Yoga has also been shown to have similar results.

Both of these activities take nothing more than a few minutes of spare time to start seeing results. You can learn everything you need to about these stress-zapping practices online – just make sure you don’t get too distracted!

The key is to give your mind a rest from thinking. It’s in activation mode throughout the application process which can lead to increased stress levels even if you’re not aware of the rise in anxiety.

9. Get Outside and Breathe Some Fresh Air

It sounds rather awkward, but it’s another addition to the pile of great tips for managing anxiety. Taking short tours outdoors, especially in the mornings and evenings, has some healing powers. It’s especially important to try on days when you feel overwhelmed with the hassle of studying and writing college applications.

Take a solitary walk out into the neighbourhood. A place with ample vegetation and tree cover is the best. Take in some deep breaths while watching birds play and chirp on the trees. Feel the sunshine on your face, and the breeze on your back.

two male friends laughing while looking at the camera

Nature has an amazing ability to reduce stress and anxiety. It can calm the mind and clear away overthinking while improving your focus at work and school. It also keeps you from worrying about things that could go wrong.

Going outside like this will help you focus on the task at hand instead of dwelling on anxieties that could distract you from your tasks. If you try it once, you will understand how significant it can be in dealing with your anxiety.

Unlike other tips for managing anxiety, you won’t have to make much of an effort. Simply step outside, spend a few moments taking in fresh air and sunlight, and watch as your stresses slip away.

10. Stay Active to Maintain Fitness Levels

The last on the list of tips for managing anxiety is staying active to maintain fitness levels.

Fitness is a crucial ingredient in maintaining good moods. Ironically, the amount of time you have to focus on college admissions can end up decreasing your activity levels which contributes to increased stress which you already have too much of.

If you’re idle for an extended period of time, it’s common to feel down. It’s well-documented that those who exercise regularly have improved moods. Now, you don’t have to be hitting the gym every single day to receive these positives of staying active. It’s about staying active, not training like an Olympic athlete.

Go with your friends, when possible, to a sports club where you can get in some exercise and cut old habits of anxiety. You can also join a walking group or go jogging if you are more into that atmosphere.

Mountain climbing, hitchhiking, skating, or even swimming are alternatives to keep you on the move. The list goes on and on. There surely will be a physical exercise you will like. Even tennis or football will go a long way in keeping you in good shape.

People who are always active in sports never have room for stress or anxieties. There is a catch, though. You will need to balance your spare time for your studies and tasks. This is where time management will come into play again.

Setting aside a clear and predetermined amount of time for physical activity every day can make it easier to manage the limited time you have. This way, you’ll get the activity you need without sacrificing the quality of your application.

Master the college admissions process.

Not sure where to begin when applying to college? You’re not alone! It’s a confusing process that leaves millions of high schoolers scratching their heads, unsure of where to begin. That’s where AdmissionSight can help!

We offer a broad array of impactful services aimed at helping high schoolers master the college admissions process. By drastically improving your college application, we’ll help you get into the university of your dreams.

Feel free to contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions and to talk about how we can help. We look forward to hearing from you!



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.