Beating University (and Scholarship) Application Stress

Whether it is the horror stories you hear from other applicants or the feeling of having to measure up to someone else’s expectations, the stresses of university and scholarship applications might be getting to you. Not to mention that these applications, involving way too many documents and deadlines to be considered “fun”, also occur alongside other demands such as coursework, part-time job, extra-curricular activities, and the social pressures of teenage life.

If you are feeling stressed and emotional about your applications, this advice is for you.

Debunking Misconceptions

Many students think that their choice of course or university and whether they can score a scholarship would determine the direction of the rest of their lives. Such a mindset is not only toxic but also untrue. Success is measured by the value of a person’s contribution to society and how they feel about themselves. Your university or scholarship merely guides you on your journey, opening doors to opportunities that ultimately depend on you to make the best of them. So clear your head of that misconception and approach university and scholarship application as part and parcel of an exciting rite of passage that will take you from school to university and the adult world beyond.

Develop a Winning Mindset

Stress is real, and it can be debilitating. But do not let your negative feelings influence your application process. Your mindset is one of your most important assets. It can make a tremendous difference in the energy and vibe presented to the committee through your applications and interviews. Therefore, getting into a state of positivity and a winning mindset when you prepare your applications is crucial in helping you achieve potentially positive and victorious outcomes!

Write To Express Your Thoughts

There is a myriad of scientific studies on the effects of expressive writing on stress levels. Expressive writing is believed to help people better regulate their emotions and construct meaning from traumatic or stressful events by expressing and organising their thoughts and feelings into a narrative form.

If you are feeling stressed about your applications, start penning those thoughts. Let it help you make clear why you want to go to university and why you want to apply for a scholarship. Connect to the meaning of higher education for you. The process of your expressive writing might even put you in a creative space for crafting your personal statement and essays!

Prioritise and Stick to Your Decision

Now let’s get down to the agony of choices. Whether you use meditation or expressive writing to help you decide what is important to you, prioritising and narrowing down your university and scholarship options can help you cut back on some of that decision-making stress. Both indecisiveness and fickle-mindedness are enemies to progress. So make a decision and stick with it. 

Schedule Reasonable Time

To keep from procrastinating, just like how you would schedule your exercise plan, set aside a little time every day to research and work on your university and scholarship applications. Assign an appropriate stretch goal to get your work accomplished in reasonable time. And when the time is up, put your pen down and don’t dwell on it further. Spending all your time (and even into the night) thinking about applications will not help you make better applications.

Get Advice from the Right People

Getting advice from others is a good idea, but not too much! With the different opinions and recommendations, you may end up feeling more overwhelmed than when you first started. Approach and talk to people you respect and trust and those who know you well. Career counsellors are always good resources because of their specialised expertise. But no matter who you talk to, don’t let their voices drown your opinion. Remember, you know yourself best.

You Don’t Have to Follow the Crowd

Choose a school, programme, or career that can help you realise your goals and interests. Don’t just look to your peers or signs of popularity and follow unquestioningly. Have you also considered the less popular choices, like alternatives to a traditional degree or a gap year to get some life experience before going to university? Rather than settle for convenient answers, take some time to examine your options. As Socrates says in Plato’s Apology, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When you have thoroughly considered your decision, it naturally makes you confident and upbeat about applying, and you would no longer see the application so much as a stressful and onerous task.

Take a Break and Consider the World Beyond You

It is easy to get caught up with your university and scholarship applications and start thinking of yourself in terms of scores, titles, achievements, awards, and comparisons. But remember, life is not all about academic success. If you are putting in your best effort, you are already on the right track. Cut yourself some slack. And if you are looking for an activity to help you to de-stress, consider looking at the world beyond you. Not only does volunteering and community work make meaningful activities, but they also make great stories to share in your admission essays and scholarship interviews!