This week we welcome Regional Director of Admission (West Coast) Ashley Brookshire to the blog. Welcome, Ashley!
I loathe feeling out of control. My Type A personality enjoys organization, logical outcomes, and the authority to make decisions. Maybe that’s why adjusting to LA traffic has proven to be such a struggle.
If given the choice, I think most of us would choose being a driver over a passenger, especially in situations where we’re heavily invested in the outcome. Whether you’re putting an offer in on a house, waiting for test results, or doing something else that generally relinquishes your decision-making power to a third-party, it feels particularly chaotic and stressful.
Similarly, there are a lot of pieces of the college application process you can’t control. Worrying about who else is in the applicant pool for admission is misplaced; there’s nothing you can do to impact the decisions that individual students across the country make when it comes to their college applications.
Instead, focus on what you can control. Trust me – there is a lot within the admission process that puts you in the driver’s seat, even though sometimes it may not feel that way. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
You get to decide what matters to you in a college experience, and also decide how much time and effort you’ll exert to learn about colleges that offer those opportunities. The college search process should involve some soul searching, the benefits of which stretch far beyond creating a college list.
Take time to truly reflect on these questions:
- What excites you about college?
- Why do you want to go?
- Are there pressures coming from others in your life that are directing your search on your behalf?
- What type of environments allow you to thrive? Encourage you to grow? Make you happy?
You’re the one who will be calling this place your home away from home, not your parents, classmates, or overzealous neighbor. Wisdom and insights from others can be immensely helpful, but make sure you’re using this as a resource, not the final authority.
Take time to figure out what you’re looking for—it’s much easier to find “it” if you know what “it” is.
Once you know the qualities of a college that excite you, start your search! There are more than 4,000 colleges in the US alone, and while many have overlapping traits, they also offer distinct communities and programs.
You get to decide how much time is spent in this process. If you truly take your time to learn more about yourself, as well as your educational options, then you’ll build confidence in yourself, as well as building a college list. If you’re only using word-of-mouth or quick ranking websites to build your list, then you’re leaving a lot of unknowns out there. Take time on the front end – it’ll direct the rest of your college search, all the way until you’ve made your final decision.
Set Your Pace
You control the time frame in which you work on your applications. An application deadline does not mean you have to submit your completed application during that 24-hour window. It means that—after weeks of time to compile your thoughts, achievements, and story—applications must be submitted no later than this date. You can decide how the work is broken up over the course of the weekends prior to the deadline, or if you’ll be using the last 2 hours ahead of the deadline to try to complete a well-polished application (spoiler alert: you likely will not put your best foot forward if you’re opting for the latter).
Be a Decision Maker
As mentioned before, you choose where you’ll submit your college applications. You get to set your priorities, craft your list, and actually apply to those schools. The colleges will evaluate the applications they’ve received against the institutional priorities set for them, then deliver the information back to students in the form of admission decisions. This particular step, the review of your application, falls into the “out of your control” category.
That being said, if the college needs additional information from you, they will reach out (check your email!). Make sure you’ve set up an organizational system to catch these important e-mails and requests! Need ideas? Check out this previous blog post.
Once admission decisions have been released, the ball is back in your court! You get to bookend this process as the decision-maker. From the collection of acceptance letters you’ve received, you now have the privilege of deciding where you’d like to attend (and these should all be from schools where you can see yourself enrolling. After all, you are the one who decided to apply in the first place!).
Managing anxiety and worry is challenging, but these emotions do not need to dominate your college search and selection. Take ownership, pride, and comfort in all the control you have in these processes, rather than dwelling on the few pieces that are out of your hands. Good luck!
Ashley Brookshire is an Atlanta native and Georgia Tech alumna who has worked in college admission for nearly a decade. Ashley serves as Georgia Tech’s Regional Director of Admission for the West Coast, making her home in Southern California. She’s been a California resident for more than 5 years and is a member of the Regional Admission Counselors of California.
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