Juniors are in full swing searching for the “best” college. I find in talking with many of them that they are also afraid, particularly when they see seniors with great test scores and grades getting turned down at some (many) of the colleges they applied to. So, let’s face that fear and see how to deal with some common fears.
Fear of “the test”. Yes, the SAT and ACT. The best way to address this fear is through preparation. If you understand the test you are taking and the types of questions that you will be asked, you have a much greater chance of doing as well as you can.
Remember that you can take the SAT or ACT more than once. I generally recommend that a student take the test two times. Few students will improve substantially taking more than two tests. But, you have some assurance if you let your fear get the best of you on one test, you can always retake.
And let’s not forget that there are over 800 test optional colleges including ones that are academically appropriate for almost everyone.
Fear of choosing the wrong college. This fear is also best addressed by preparation. How do you prepare to find the “right” college? Start early to give yourself plenty of time to decide what you want from a college and to find colleges that fit your needs. The biggest reason I see why students want to transfer from their first college is a lack of understanding what they wanted from a college in the first place.
Fear of writing the essay. The college application essay is a different form of writing than most students are used to. The most important thing about the college essay is to write about who you are. If you write from the heart, you don’t need to worry about whether your topic sounds impressive. Many of the best college application essays involve everyday, mundane life.
Fear of not getting in. This is the big fear right now as the low acceptance rates to colleges are broadcast from every tower. But you know what? Those low acceptance rates only apply to about 100 colleges. The other 2,000+ colleges in this country accept the majority of the people who apply. You want to go to one of those colleges with low acceptance rates? Great, but just make sure you have some other colleges on your list where your chance of acceptance is greater. Don’t worry about your future if you don’t get into one of the most selective colleges. Many famous people didn’t either.
Fear of failure. If you go to college, you can succeed. Most of your success depends on you, not on where you go to college.
Fear of leaving home. You have friends you have known all your life. You don’t want to leave them. What if you don’t make new friends? Leaving home can be scary but it is part of growing up. Both of my daughters were concerned about making new friends when they went away for college. And both of them were ready for my wife and me to leave about an hour after they set foot on campus. You too will make new friends.
Go ahead and look at colleges close to home but don’t restrict yourself to local colleges. With modern communications, you can always stay in touch regardless of where you are attending college.
I have always liked the statement by Franklin Delano Roosevelt that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” What do you fear?