Application Burnout can be a very real phenomenon for students approaching the end of a long application season. As if getting through end of year final exams wasn’t enough of a challenge, seniors now find themselves struggling to put the final finishing touches on applications—editing resumes, finalizing short answer responses, revising essays, and putting on the last few polishes. The process is long and tough but absolutely worth it. Take a look at our tips for how to finish strong and avoid application burnout.
[UPDATED: If you’re facing a pressing deadline, consider reading our Procrastinator’s Handbook here]
1. Make a Plan and Stick to it
Most burnout occurs during the semester gap over winter break. With the holiday season in full swing, it can be tough to stay motivated and work to get things done. So, before school lets out, make a plan with reasonable goals to accomplish before the break’s end and stick to it!
Set aside a handful of hours each day to dedicate to wrapping up everything that needs to be finished. This will allow you to balance the demands of family, friends, and general relaxation while also remaining productive.
Part of what goes into creating your plan includes prioritizing which application components will require the most attention. Generally speaking, longer supplemental essays require more thought and focus than short answer questions. Additionally, simple tasks like filling out biographical information and your high school course history require almost no time at all. Figure out how best to use your limited time resources and an overwhelming mountain of work will begin to feel extremely manageable.
3. Finish Strong – Think of the End Goal
Don’t give up! You’re almost there! Keeping going!
We get it. You want it to just be over. You want to click submit and never think about submitting applications again. Once your apps are in, life will be so much simpler, right? Well, not quite.
The truth is, submitting your applications before they’re completely finished will only cause more trouble than it’s worth. I often have to emphasize to students how each additional essay, each additional revision, and each additional insight really does make a difference in quality. It’s not uncommon for essays to take several revisions, but the final version is always vastly different from the original. Similarly, it’s never worth crossing schools off your list just to avoid the task of writing an additional essay. You never know if that school will end up being your first choice.
Sadly, I have had students fail to reach their full potential because they decided to give up early and submit before they were ready. Once the dust settles and notices go out in early Spring, they occasionally find themselves disappointed for not sticking with the process and exploring more options.
However, the students who commit to the journey and follow through are the ones who are the most pleased with their options by the end of the school year. All is not lost if you choose to submit your applications too soon—there are always options for transferring or applying to schools with rolling admissions cycles—but it’s easier to continue with a process in full swing than it is to try and pick things up again after the momentum has faded.
How do you avoid application burnout? Let us know in the comments!
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