My Nightmare College App Experience

Katherine Hearden, Senior Editor

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As I write this article, I repeatedly switch my tab onto college portals, hitting refresh on crashed sites due to high traffic. It is Halloween, but more importantly, it is the night before November 1, when most early applications are due. I submitted mine throughout the past two weeks, but the fear of a mistake in sending my ACT tests keeps me hitting refresh.

I am a pretty detailed-oriented person, but an incident with an application from a few weeks back has taken my meticulousness to hysterical levels.

For an application to an extremely competitive school (and one of my top choices), I had missed the BA deadline. Feeling the wrath of the college office, I finished up all of my essays, made sure all the boxes were filled out, and hit submit during my lunch period.

As I walked to Calculus, I felt uneasy. I did not double check everything, but I had to compose myself for a test; so, I pushed it out of my mind.

After my test, I ripped out my laptop, previewed my application, glossed over it, and realized I had submitted one of my essays without the final paragraph. Initially, I was not rattled; it was a mere four sentences, essentially just wrapping up what I had already discussed. I’m fine!

This initial calm lasted for about ten seconds. Then, I burst into tears in the middle of the library. I had spent hours on this essay, and against a competitive pool, every detail mattered. I sprinted up to the college office, still in complete hysterics. We submitted a change form, but I knew there were no guarantees that the right essay would get through.

I could not sleep for the next two days. Waves of anxiety kept me up at night, and I found myself checking my application over and over for other errors. Not surprisingly, I found some other minor typos. I spent weeks scouring the internet on how these sorts of errors affect admissions chances. I found myself on hundreds of College Confidential discussion threads, reading page after page in search of some sort of validation that my application was still acceptable. (If you do not know what College Confidential is, it is a toxic, addictive website for college-obsessed students and parents; beware.) Some days, I felt my errors guaranteed automatic rejection. Other days, I convinced myself that my errors helped me. It’s not too polished. I look like a normal teenager!

A few weeks later, I heard back from said college, and they received my change. The other errors, though, continue to haunt me, but slowly I am realizing that they have no real significance in my application.

I keep asking myself why I pressed submit. Maybe it’s because I was running on 4 hours of sleep since I spent my night studying for my Calculus and Macroeconomics tests. Maybe it’s because I am a total rule follower, and I had already missed the deadline. Most likely, though, it’s because I am human, and I make mistakes.

Underclassmen, enjoy your time away from the madness of college applications. Juniors, be thankful that you don’t have essays due (yet). Seniors, double check everything you send. If you do find an error, breathe. Remind yourself that nearly every applicant has some sort of error in their paperwork. Besides, you are worth far more than your college application.


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