Taking the Stress Out of College and Graduate School Applications

This article is written by Joyce Wilson, a guest author and a former college admissions officer. She has helped hundreds of students get into their dream schools and programs. In this article, she shares her insider knowledge and expertise on how to navigate the application process.

– April 17, 2023

Did you know that the average acceptance rate for U.S. colleges and universities is only 66%? That means one out of every three applicants gets rejected. And for some of the most competitive schools, the rate can be as low as 5%.

If you’re planning to apply to college or graduate school, you might be feeling anxious about your chances of getting in. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of students go through this process every year, and many of them succeed in landing their dream spots. How do they do it? They follow some simple but effective tips and tricks to make their applications stand out from the crowd.

In this article, I’ll share with you some of the best practices that I’ve learned from my own experience as a former college admissions officer and a current graduate student. 

Make a Task Timeline

Creating a timeline for tasks is essential when applying to college or graduate school. It will help you stay organized and make sure nothing falls through the cracks, including important deadlines and test dates. Having a timeline will also ensure that each step in the application process is taken care of on time.

Obtain All Required Documents

Gathering the necessary documents before submitting your application is a crucial step in the process. Transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, and more should all be acquired to ensure everything is in order. The process of actually submitting your application will be easier if all documents are collected beforehand.

Utilize Online PDF Management Tools

Organizing your important admission documents is a must if you want to make the application process go as smoothly as possible. PDFs are the preferred format over Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files when it comes to sharing files online. Fortunately, there are online tools that allow you to easily convert these kinds of files into PDFs by just dragging and dropping them into the tool.

Use Internet-based Research Resources

Researching colleges and universities online has never been easier. With a vast array of online research tools, you can quickly access all the information you need to make an informed decision on where to apply for college or graduate school. These tools are highly efficient, saving you time and energy while giving you the most comprehensive data on schools, programs, and admission requirements.

Allow Enough Time for Yourself

Applying to college or graduate school can be an overwhelming process, so it’s important to give yourself plenty of time. Strive to give yourself at least one month prior to any application deadlines to allocate enough time for all necessary tasks. Doing so can help you avoid feeling rushed and ensure that you are able to properly submit your applications on time.

Regulate Stress and Nutrition

Applying for college or graduate school can be stressful but it’s important not to let this stress take over your life. Try managing your stress by taking breaks throughout the day, exercising regularly, meditating/praying, and listening to music/podcasts/audiobooks, etc., Additionally, it is important to prioritize self-care and health. Instead of snacking on chips or soda throughout the day, try opting for healthier snacks such as fruit, nuts, or a smoothie instead. Not only will you reduce hunger in between meals, but you’ll also gain energy to keep your productivity up. 

Prepare for Any Standardized Testing

No matter what schools or programs you are looking to attend, it’s important to be fully prepared for standardized testing. Utilizing online practice tests is a great way to identify any areas where additional studying may be necessary in order to get the best possible score. Getting a good score on these exams can make a big difference in the admissions process.


Applying to college or graduate school doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By following the tips and tricks in this article, you can make the process easier and more enjoyable.

You can also increase your chances of getting accepted into your desired schools and programs. Remember to:

  • Plan ahead and create a timeline
  • Gather all required documents ahead of time
  • Use online tools to research schools and programs
  • Allow enough time for yourself to avoid burnout
  • Regulate stress and pay attention to your nutrition
  • Be prepared for standardized testing

You’ve worked hard to get to this point, and you deserve to celebrate your achievements. Don’t let the application process overwhelm you or discourage you from pursuing your dreams. With some preparation and organization, you can ace your applications and look forward to your next academic adventure. Good luck!