It’s easy to feel exhausted by the college admissions process, but there are practical steps you can take to manage that stress and stay ahead of your regular schoolwork. Avoiding burnout while achieving your goals amid the whirlwind of college admissions and academic demands is challenging, but it’s also part of the process and helps you mature as a student.
Be a Goal-Getter
In previous posts, we’ve talked about being SMART when creating goals, and those same principles apply here too. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. To break that down further, you want goals that are:
- Specific. What exactly do you want to achieve?
- Measurable. Setting clear benchmarks for what achieving those goals looks like.
- Achievable. Setting realistic goals is important so that you don’t feel like you’re failing and lose motivation.
- Relevant. Your goals should align with your values and long-term objectives.
- Timely. Committing to completing these goals within a specific time frame to prevent procrastination.
These same ideas apply to managing stress, especially when college admissions applications and essays begin.
For example, set SMART goals for completing your college application essay, first by being specific in choosing the prompt you want to answer. Next, make a measurable plan. If the essay is between 250-650 words, start with an outline — then write each section one at a time so you can clearly track your progress. Approach the essay in the most achievable way by ensuring the topic is something you feel confident writing about. Lastly, plan for a timely process. Look at your overall schedule and academic workload so you can block out multiple windows to write and revise your essay.
Setting SMART goals is a practical way to manage stress. In the moment, though, when stress and anxiety are at their peaks, it can be hard to have the perspective to step back and set goals. So it’s useful to learn some mindfulness exercises to put into practice when needed.
That can involve meditating, stretching a walk around the block, a quick jog, or even a short nap. After taking a mindfulness break, it can be easier to tackle your to-do list.
Meditation, in particular, is proven to be an effective way to take a pause and reset your brain. It can help with stress management and mood regulation. There are many ways to meditate and you may have tried some in the past. You can start by first closing your eyes and taking a deep, slow breath. Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Repeat this 10 times. Take a few quiet minutes — and set a timer if you’re feeling restless — to focus on nothing other than listening to your breath. If thoughts about academic work, errands, chores, or social drama pop into your head, gently push them away. Imagine a cloudless blue sky. And imagine your thoughts to be clouds, drifting through the air. As you notice them, try to slowly blow them away with each exhale.
At first, it may be difficult to keep your mind from wandering and don’t be hard on yourself if you feel like it’s not working. Over time, if you keep doing it, it will probably help you — even if the improvements are very slight. This exercise is a great way to focus yourself when you’re feeling the burden of college applications.
Looking for More?
To learn more about preparing for college, including stress management, connect with an Empowerly team member. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to helping students and families prepare for academics after high school and can help support you too. Reach out to connect with an Empowerly team member today.