College application season is in full swing, as is the stress that accompanies it. That’s understandable. Making decisions that will impact the rest of your life is an intense process! It’s easy to become overwhelmed by college application season and feel somewhat stuck on what to do. Thankfully, there are several ways to relieve this stress and see the process through successfully to the other side. 

1. Seek Additional Support

One of the best things you can do to get through the college application process is to get help. Instead of trying to take it on all by yourself, find people who can assist you along the way. These can be school resources, like a guidance counselor, whose purpose is to provide students with advice. Or you may find support in a family member, like a parent, aunt or uncle, or older sibling. 

For more specialized assistance, you could also work with a college admissions consultant. These professionals make it their job to help with college prep and the application process. Having a dedicated admissions consultant assisting you in conjunction with other supportive individuals will certainly lighten your load. There’s no rule saying you must go through the college admissions process alone, so take advantage of all the help you can. 

2. Organize Your Applications

As you’re amassing the support you need to get through the process, ask these people to help you organize. Applications can quickly spiral out of control, especially if you are applying to many schools and for several scholarships. It’s important to keep track of deadlines, everything that has been completed, and everything still left to do. How you choose to organize all this is up to you, but it’s in your best interest to develop a system. 

Separate the application components you’ve completed — essays written, recommendation letters solicited, etc. — from those in progress and those yet to be started. Then you’ll know what you’ve finished and how much work is left. You might also consider setting up a system to store materials you get from various colleges to reference later. If you’re not going to apply to a school, though, don’t hesitate to toss out (or better yet, recycle) the materials they’ve sent you. Having less clutter around will help you stay more organized. 

3. Schedule Campus Visits

Instead of relying entirely on brochures and websites to inform your decisions, schedule a few college visits. You’ll quickly sense whether a campus is right for you. Take a campus tour and meet with faculty and current students if you can. They’ll be able to answer your questions, and what you learn may reduce your anxiety about applying. 

Don’t stress if the visit doesn’t end with you picturing yourself sitting in class there or hanging out on that particular quad. If you realize a college you visit isn’t the one for you, you still had a successful trip. You now know you don’t need to waste your time or mental energy pursuing that application further. 

4. Attend College-Related Info Sessions

Sometimes, feeling overwhelmed comes from a lack of knowledge. If that’s the case for you, be sure to attend any college-oriented information sessions you can, whether they’re school-specific or on topics like applying for financial aid. Be prepared with questions, and be ready to take notes. Removing unknown elements should help you feel more in control of the whole process. You’ll also be able to make more informed decisions about where you’d like to go. 

If your parents are members of your support system, as they likely will be, make sure they join you at these sessions. They may think of questions you won’t. Additionally, they might remember things from the session that you don’t, so you can later compile all the information you learned together. A deeper knowledge base should ease the discomfort that comes from the unknown. 

5. Talk About Other Subjects

Right now, it may feel like all you talk about is what you don’t know about your future. Everyone is asking about where you’ll go to school, what you’ll major in, and what you’ll do after you graduate. It’s understandable that they’d want to know, but all this questioning can add to your stress. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with the college inquisition, it’s OK to change the topic. 

Most people, especially those who’ve gone through the college application process themselves, will understand. Talk about things you enjoy and what you’re looking forward to about your college years. Or talk about things that are not college-related at all. Keeping up with your hobbies and interests will provide outlets for relieving your anxiety about what’s to come.  

6. Find Ways to Relax

Speaking of hobbies, pursuing activities not related to applying for college will make you feel better. Be sure you have designated time for relaxing. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time — just enough to do something you enjoy. Set aside time to read, watch your favorite show, play a game, or hang out with friends. Exercise like yoga, hiking, or dancing can also relieve stress.

Whatever you choose to do for relaxation, make sure it’s something that will take your whole focus. The point is to get your mind off what’s causing you to feel overwhelmed. For example, you probably won’t be thinking about your applications if you’re engrossed in a movie. It can seem counterproductive to take time away from the college application process, but it will help in the end. You’ll present yourself better if you’re less anxious. 

Applying for colleges is a complicated process, full of unknowns. However, you can get through it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back, take a deep breath, and implement some of these tips. Refocusing your energy and concentrating on the good ahead will enable you to move through the college admissions process with (relative) ease.