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Stressful High School Senior Season

Ethan shares about his experiences and advises on the college application process (and struggles with alliteration)

Ethan shares about his experiences and advises on the college application process (and struggles with alliteration)


Hello again! As I promised last week, I am gonna change stuff up a bit. Instead of sharing what I am enjoying and how I am adapting as a first-year at Carleton, I want to turn back the clock a bit and share my experience and advice as a High School Senior during the College-Application season (I am assuming the majority of people who read this blog are prospective students going through this process right now; hopefully I’m right).

October of my senior year was the worst month for me. Still confused by the whole process, bewildered by the complicated paperwork, overwhelmed by all the college choices and the approaching deadlines of Early Action and Early Decision, combined with busy school work and athletic events totally exhausted me. Looking back, I want to give some advice to current HS seniors from what I have learned.

1. Get Enough Sleep

Seriously. Get Sleep. I know it’s hard to get enough sleep with all the crazy stuff that’s going on. But getting at least 6/7 hours of sleep will make you more energetic during the day and more efficient when dealing with all the crazy stuff.

2. Go Out & Exercise

Outdoor, lake during sunset
Enjoy the beautiful lake of the Lyman Lake

When you are busy with all the work, writing essays and researching schools indoors all day, try to also go out, get some fresh air, and have some good exercise. I remember being mentally exhausted in my afternoons and not wanting to go to soccer practice, but after some good drills and suicide runs, the physical exhaustion actually made me mentally refreshed and energized to push through the evening with efficient work.

3. Don’t Do it All by Yourself

College application is a daunting process and you definitely should not be doing it all just by yourself. You have advisors, counselors, teachers, family, and friends that know the hardship you are going through, so PLEASE seek help or just find someone to talk to when you feel you need to. I had so much help from these people and I really appreciate that they all listened, understood, and reassured me when I was struggling with myself.

Also encourage your fellow seniors, you are all in this together fighting the same battle and you can relate well with each other. Help each other out! That being said, try not to exert peer pressure onto other fellow seniors. Just because everyone is going through similar things doesn’t mean it’s exactly the same for everyone.

Ethan's high school commencement cap tossing
Our commencement cap toss. I love and miss everyone in this picture. (Yes this is our entire senior class)

4. Plan Things Out

Planning in general is crucial in life, and it is especially the case when you are dealing with an overwhelming amount of work (especially you are often a procrastinator like me). Making several soft deadlines for yourself will keep you on the right track and prevent everything from snowballing into a huge uncontrollable mess. Physical or digital calendars and planners can often help you out. I started using them only recently and wish I had used them during the application process.

Ethan's Calendar Screenshot
My calendar now in college

Also make sure you plan out college visits and interviews carefully as well. It’s absolutely great to go on overnight stays, but also make sure you get the best out of it by scheduling sit-in classes before arriving on campus.

There we go. Those are some important experiences/advice that I want to share with everyone that’s going through the college application process, and I wish you the best of luck! To those of you who are not going through the application process yourself but know someone who’s fighting the fight, please stand with them, support them, and give them a hug when they need one. Thank you.


Ethan is a a first-year international student from Beijing, China, and is exited to embrace the environment and winter in Minnesota. Ethan is a huge soccer fan as he watches and plays it as often as he listens to music, especially a cappella music by Pentatonix and other artists. Although his passions in Environmental Studies and Chemistry flow through his veins, Ethan is thrilled to explore other areas like Music and Computer Science in his time at Carleton. Meet the Other Bloggers!