Going through the college application (and audition) process this year, I had a revelation: This process is so unnecessarily extra. This list puts into chronological order the craziest year of my life.
1. Junior Year
It all starts here with the stress of preparing for AP tests and the SAT (or ACT). The expenses of this process begin early. Each test costs about $100 to take. Taking several AP classes and trying for a better SAT score can put a huge dent in your (or your parents’) wallet. Just when you think it's over and you can relax, the College Board releases the essay prompts and you start worrying about the application itself. Every college counselor told me that the essay is one of the most important parts of the college application, so writing a stellar piece is crucial.
2. The Senior Summer
My friends and I couldn’t enjoy the summer before our senior year. Between my internship, working on my college applications, preparing for my college auditions and doing my summer work for school, I hardly had any time to relax with my friends. One of my most vivid memories is sitting in my hotel room on a family vacation to Florida writing my common app essay. While the bulk of application work was done, there was a long way to go before I was ready to submit. I was so preoccupied with this process that I couldn’t fully enjoy a vacation with my family.
3. The Essays
The person who said, “Senior year is the best!” apparently did not apply to a vast number of colleges as I did. One of the most “extra” aspects of this process is the required supplemental essays for each college. Recycling an essay isn't an option because most schools require a, “Why our college?” prompt that needs to be specific to the school. I wish I had more time to focus on each of my essays, but I had a tight deadline to follow so I could schedule my auditions for college theater programs. Spending an hour on each of my essays would have taken 30+ hours.
4. The Auditions
Unlike most of my peers, I auditioned for a ton of college musical theater programs, which took up all of my weekends for about three months. The “extra-ness” in that process was its own monster. Each school had a different requirement about what songs to sing, to the point where I had a spreadsheet with each school and their audition information. Additionally, I had to bring a headshot to each of my auditions, with a resume stapled on the back and cut down to an eight x ten size. Before a long audition weekend, I would sit on the floor and cut my resumes down to the correct size, then staple them to the back of my headshots.
5. The Waiting
One of the worst parts of this whole ordeal was the waiting. Every day, I would speed home (sorry mom!) to check my mailbox for any college news. I also checked my email every two minutes and often was told to put my phone away. There was no consistency to how I heard from a school. I got letters, emails and portal updates throughout March letting me know about my status. Then I had to choose.
6. Choosing a School
Weirdly, selecting a college was hard. You spend over a year on this crazy process and now have to choose a school that you feel will fit all of your needs. I narrowed down my list to three schools and visited them during my spring break, meeting with professors and current students as they tried to sell their school to me. My mom also met with the financial aid office in hopes that they would give me a little more money because college is way too expensive.
While this process was stressful, it was worth every second. Through auditioning, I met some great friends and figured out what I wanted in a musical theater program. I also grew as an artist and ultimately overcame my audition nerves. Although I never want to experience the stress of college applications again, I definitely grew as a person more than I could have ever imagined.
To every incoming senior going through this process, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. All of your hard work will pay off, even if you can’t see it now. The biggest sigh of relief I ever felt was when I sent in my deposit and finally got to enjoy my senior year. I wouldn’t change anything about my experience.
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