Time is Relative

Teagan Havemeier, Contributing Editor

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When I approach the end of a book series, especially one that I have stuck with from the beginning, I often get rather excited as the release date comes closer. With this one book series, in particular, I remember how excited I was to hear that the final installment was stated to come out in January of 2019 (it was 2016 at the time). I told myself I would read it the day it hit the bookstores.

When you’re waiting for something that is so far away like that, it is easy to believe in the phrase “I have time,” when in reality the span of time is rather warped. It is much easier to want something when it is in the future and much more difficult to want something when that time you once had so much of is down to its last few moments. It is 2019 and although I have that book sitting on my bedside table, I still cannot get myself to read it because even though it was so easy to dive into the other books and I wanted to know what happens next, this one meant something else. This one was the end.

But what does this have to do with my high school experience? Even way back in August of 2015, I had only one date in mind: May 2019. As a freshman, it was so easy to yearn for that date, to be excited, and want for it to come sooner.  It was so easy to believe that senior year would be a breeze and you will be prepared for college when it comes because you have so much time to do everything that needs to be done.

Alas, as that time gets eaten up, as the tests, club meetings, and the sports games fly by, things are no longer as easy as they once were. For those of you who have yet to endure the hell that is college application season, senior year will be a grind. As was in the other years, my friends and I were all balancing multiple clubs, sports, high-level classes, a social life, and jobs that made getting good grades our only hobby and sleep a want rather than a need. On top of this though, we had the additional stress of figuring out where we wanted to apply and actually going through the application process.

College Applications are No Joke

I remember thinking I would spend one weekend on the applications, and that once again the December and January deadlines were far enough away that I “had plenty of time.” For those of you who are thinking about this as you are reading, it is time to re-evaluate. The reality of the college application process is that you will never be productive unless you spread the work out evenly. You need to have at least one solid essay, recommendation letters from multiple teachers/ mentors, a resume, and transcripts uploaded into different application portals in a timely manner. Luckily, I was able to doctor up an old essay I wrote from my junior year and had already started my resume to apply for summer programs previously.

However, even though I had most of these things written, a lot of the application portals, like coalition and the common app, had separate essays for specific colleges as well as individual personal questions that took time to fill out. I remember writing out a spreadsheet of things I needed to do/ people I needed to ask for recommendation letters for each college along with the due dates. I freaked out one time because I realized I took the wrong SAT subject test, so I was a last-minute kid when it came to those. My largest suggestion in that regard is to really read into the university’s requirements to ensure all parts of your application are correct. I had my principal look over my application, but I’m sure a parent or teacher would gladly look at yours. It is very important you have people look over all different parts of your application.

The Aftermath: It Ain’t Over Yet

When I clicked submit on that last college application, I wanted to sink into my couch and never get back up. However, as it tends to be in senior year, this was not a plausible option. Luckily, I had already applied for FAFSA, but as college application season ended, I entered a whole new realm of horror: scholarship applications. Once again I made a to-do list with due dates for the ones I qualified for (I used the school news and the Collier County website to find them) and recycled many essays and wrote many more. Be prepared to have to write about your goals, career interests, and accomplishments. I also had my fair share of scoldings from teachers that I asked far too close to the deadline for recommendation letters.

Final Parting Words

I have little timre remaining in my senior year and although it has certainly been tough, receiving my acceptance letters from FSU and UF were some of the most rewarding experiences of my high school career. If you are worried about what senior year has in store for you, ask yourself the following questions. Do I have a reasonable coping mechanism with stress? Do I know something I may have to sacrifice in order to deal with the time required to fill out applications? Have I done a decent amount of research in regards to the colleges I want to apply to? If you answered yes to these questions, you are already on the right track.

There will be moments when you feel like time is caving in on itself, when freaking out and screeching into your pillow seems like your only course of action. Don’t forget to keep talking to your friends, hang out with your family, and go to school events. Every moment will be one more thing to catalog into your “lasts” of high school. You don’t need to sacrifice your life to college applications, you just need to sacrifice a little time.

So how can you avoid the same mistakes I made? Here are a couple of tips:

College Essays

-At the end of your junior year, write two essays. One that depicts a moment of personal growth, and one that talks about what your goals and aspirations have been shaped by your accomplishments or experiences in high school.

-Over the summer, research the colleges you will be applying to and make sure you meet all the requirements. Create lists of things you need to accomplish for each college/ who you need to ask to make that happen

-Have a teacher look over your essays or resume to ensure you have good diction and grammar.

-Don’t type your essays or short answer questions directly into the website, write it in Google Docs first in case it doesn’t save while you are writing.

Resumes

-Use a template to construct your resume for colleges. Keep it at 1-2 pages and ask for help reviewing it.

-Organize your resume by importance, put the most impressive accomplishments at the top so that if they stop reading after a few lines they can easily decipher what kind of person you are.

Recommendation Letters

-Try to get a variety of recommendation letters (mix of coaches, teachers, club advisors, church mentors, etc.) to show you are well-rounded.

-Ask people in person if you can, and then send an email in regards to the letter requirements, your resume, and what you would like them to focus on. MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM!

-ALWAYS send thank you emails to any correspondents, it makes them more eager to help you.

Scholarships

-Re-use your college essays for scholarship essays if you can.

-Apply for as many scholarships as you can, the money adds up.

-If you plan on applying for multiple scholarships, get multiple copies of your transcript as well as a digital copy so that you don’t have to constantly ask your guidance counselor.

Organization Skills

-Check your email daily for updates to ensure you turned everything in.

-Make folders in your Gmail for each college to keep yourself organized and have them easily accessible.

-Write down your passwords and student IDs in your notes somewhere you won’t lose them. You will be making A LOT of new accounts this year.

Time Management

-Within the first couple weeks you get back to school, put in your request for your recommendation letters to specific teachers that know you best. It is also a good idea to get a recommendation letter from a coach or club advisor to show separate interests

-Turn your transcript in ahead of time of your application so that if there are any issues in regards to your application it can be processed easily and you will get earlier notice

-As tempting as it is, don’t work on your applications past midnight. You WILL make mistakes and will be too tired to look it over

-Keep up on your school work. Senioritis hits hard but it is important to do your work and be as productive as you can while it still lasts

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