THE BLOG

What I Wish I Could Change About The College App Process

03/11/2014 10:26 am ET | Updated May 11, 2014

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.

There are a few things I wish I could change about the college process. For one, the travails of applying for financial aid: It is difficult and confusing. FAFSA. CSS. IDOC. So many acronyms and so many forms! I thought that once I submitted my school applications, I just had to play the waiting game. I was wrong -- there are always more applications to fill out. And schools don't make it easy to keep track of all the paperwork (online or off): I filled out FAFSA and CSS at the end of January, but some institutions still say they have not received my forms. Others don't say anything at all, and I'm left confused as to whether or not my submissions just disappeared.

I also wish schools had a better way to communicate with applicants. Like, calling you or emailing you and telling you the next step in the process so you can be sure you're on top of things. But I guess that's just the high school student in me talking. This whole process prepares you for the reality of college. Your professor isn't going to call you or email you to let you know when the next assignment is due. During the application process, you have to keep track of everything yourself and take the initiative to call the admissions office if you're not sure about something, just like you would make an appointment with a professor to get some extra help. No one is going to hold your hand through the next four years.

And, most important, I wish I could change how much self-doubt this experience creates. College admissions officers talk about how it's not the end of the world if you don't get in to your dream school, how there are so many kids applying and sometimes students get rejected just because. But it shouldn't be taken personally. I get it. Most of the top schools have acceptance rates under 20 percent which means that, unfortunately, the majority of applicants will get rejected. These people want to prepare you for the worst-case scenarios so you're not crushed if you happen to be rejected. But, the thing about these statistics and platitudes is that they almost make you feel as though you really aren't going to get accepted.

Since this fall, I've been researching and stalking all of my dream schools nonstop. But in the last few weeks, I made the decision to stop looking at any school websites, and to try to just put everything out of my mind (well, except for all those forms!). I haven't lost hope in getting accepted. It's just that I don't want to keep stressing over it when I know I've already done all I could. I'm just waiting for March and April, when I know I'll be getting a bunch of acceptances. It's a long and tedious process, but it'll all be worth it soon enough. I just have to hold on for these last few months.