college application burnoutA Respite from the College Applications

Now that the majority of early applications have been submitted, the inevitable respite from deadlines between November 1st and the next one (whatever that may be for you) begins. For many students at Moxie, this period will bring about a mix of sensations.

The first mix, and most palpable, is a feeling of pride mingled with the comfort of relief. Everyone has been sprinting toward this autumn’s early deadline for a while now. After a tough sprint, one’s first instinct is usually to lay down and have a rest. What’s more, everyone who has been involved in the process up to this point should probably do just that, even if it’s for a few days.

Let Your Mind Wander and Be Creative

Parents should take a break from their emails and meetings with college counselors. Counselors and essay specialists should find a bit more time to read books outside and watch the leaves change. Most importantly, applicants should take time to let their minds wander and explore creative endeavors. In addition, they can focus on the rest of high school and find their magic wherever it may lay.

Anxious Minds and Burnout

However, for folks like me who possess naturally anxious minds, “relaxing” is a tough putt when there is still a lot of green ahead. And, for most students applying to college, there is indeed some work left to do. There are still supplements to be written, activities lists and CVs to be completed, portfolios to be submitted, and a whole slew of other potential time commitments to deal with in the marathon that is the college admissions process. That being said, if a student, parent, or counselor attempts to tackle all of these commitments at once, after having just completed a strenuous journey toward their first deadline, application burnout is imminent.

Burnout is Natural

Application burnout can take many forms. When I was in high school, my burnout manifested in the consumption of hours of ultimate frisbee footage. For some of my friends, burnout was defined by many trips to the new liquid nitrogen ice cream store in town. Some of my current students are still figuring out what their burnout will look like, but I can sense that it is coming. It’s natural.

We human beings seem to have a way of exhausting ourselves, one way or another. With exhaustion comes a desire to do something distinctively different from what we have been doing. That’s why, for most students applying to college, application burnout arises in the form of an escape from dealing with applications.

However, quitting the college process cold turkey in November is not going to bode well for one’s chances of receiving acceptance letters come spring. For this reason, I will offer a short guide on how to mitigate application burnout this season.

You have more time. Use it!

College applicants have more free time after their first-wave applications are submitted. This is a welcome relief from what has probably been, up through their first deadline, a pretty stressful start to fall. It is important for an applicant to take advantage of that extra time. They should make time for friends and family and for hobbies that have been set aside. They should also carve out a period of each week or each day to chip away at small tasks related to their remaining applications. Fifteen to thirty minutes of work a day will make all the difference come winter.

Establish goals to avoid burnout.

Establishing goals will allow an applicant to create a schedule for themselves, per the above note. In addition, they will feel empowered to work toward the completion of the tasks they’ve defined for themselves. Goals do not need to be complicated, but they should be specific, measurable, and time-bound. For instance, instead of: “I want to complete my application to UC Davis,” try splitting the application up into tasks that you can put on a calendar. For example: “I want to finish my one of the four Personal Insight Questions on the UC application by the end of the week.”

Find an accountability buddy.

It is difficult to do work that nobody sees or appreciates. It’s even harder to complete that kind of work consistently. For that reason, find a trusted family member, friend, or adviser with whom you can check in each day or each week to make sure that you’re staying on track. They love you and will want to help!

Reward yourself.

Once you complete one of your goals, celebrate it! One of the most important ways to avoid succumbing to burnout is to not save all your celebration until after the last application has been submitted. Celebrate the little things. Celebrate finishing up that pesky 250-word supplement with some liquid nitrogen ice cream or an ultimate frisbee highlight reel, or whatever floats your boat!

Make your burnout work for you.

For most folks, burnout is a powerful feeling or powerlessness (ironic, huh). It creates an aversion to doing college application work. It is my contention that the immensity and force of this feeling, if channeled correctly, can actually help you work on those very applications more efficiently. Use the tips that I’ve laid out above and keep taking it word by word, task by task, and step by step.

Always remember that this process is never as lonesome as it feels. The magic of the world is out there at the school that is right for you. Doing some work now to find that magic is difficult, yes. But know that it will pay off with in the long run. It could result in a life that overflows with the honey of thousands of simple, happy moments at the college you’ve worked so diligently to attend.