10 Things No One Told You About Applying to College

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As you’re starting the college application process (if you haven’t already, you overachievers), most people will be telling you one thing: what college you should go to.

gilmore girls, gilmore girls graduation

Like Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls, you may have your heart set on Harvard, but your grandparents are pressuring you to go to Yale. Okay, we all can’t be Rory and have to decide between Harvard and Yale, but you get the point.

Once you start filling out those applications, everyone will tell you where you should spend the best four years of your life. But what aren’t these people telling you?

Luckily for you, Her Campus is telling you the 10 things no one told you about applying to college, so you’ll be even more prepared to make your decision by the time you’ve received all of those acceptance letters.

10. The application process can put a strain on friendships and relationships.

Yes, even though you and your best friends compare yourselves to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, applying to college can hurt even the best sisterhoods. Some of you may stress out about the process while others don’t, one of you may get into your dream school and another doesn’t, and you may be able to pay for college even though your BFF can’t. A number of situations like these can affect a friendship, and honestly, some friendships end when high school does. But as Brandeis University collegiette Asya Bashina says, “The ones that do stick around will be your close friends.”

As you’re applying to colleges, make sure you and your friends agree to be supportive of each other, no matter what happens. And if you do get into an argument over schools, talk to each other about it. Applying to college is a sensitive subject, and some people may not realize when they’ve hit a nerve. “I had one friend who, when I told her I was applying to Yale just to see if I would get in, told me I was not Yale material, just Cornell material, and I actually cried,” says Northwestern student Katherine Mirani. “We talked about it after everything was over and both realized how messed up the whole thing was. She had no idea that she was saying something offensive, and I should have seen the comment for the college-crazed mishap it was and let it go.”

If you’re in a relationship, talk to your boyfriend about what colleges you’re applying to. What will happen to your relationship if you get into a school that he doesn’t, or vice versa? Communication is key during the college admissions process. If you and those close to you can get through the college application process, as well as the actual transition to college, then you can pretty much survive anything.

9. Labels stop mattering after high school.

While who’s popular, who’s a braniac, and so on may dominate most of your thoughts in high school, you should know these labels stop mattering after graduation. Why is it important to know this as you’re applying to college? Because you shouldn’t feel like you have to compete with your classmates to get into the best schools. During my senior year, I was accepted and almost went to a great school that not many people had heard of. I ended up going to a better-known school, and even though I have grown to love it, I think the lesser-known school would’ve been the best fit for me. If you apply to schools that not many people have heard of or ones that are labelled as “easy” to get into, be proud of that. Going to college is a great achievement no matter what school it is. Just because others may not see what’s so great about a school doesn’t mean it isn’t the best place for you.

8. Your dream school may change.

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Just like Rory, who had dreamed of going to Harvard only to discover she loved Yale more, your dream school may change as you’re going through the application process. While some of you may accept this decision with open arms, others of you may be hesitant about this sudden change of heart. How can you change your mind when you have been set on one school for your entire life?! Don’t worry – it’s going to be okay. This happens, and if you really fall in love with another school, don’t question yourself or be afraid to change your mind.

USC collegiette Rebecca Buddingh had planned on going to Boston University since her freshman year of high school, but once she received an acceptance letter, she realized she didn’t want to leave her home state of California. “I decided that my new ‘dream school’ was USC, and the day I got in was one of the best days of my life!” Rebecca says. “I'm incredibly happy that I changed my mind my second semester of senior year!” As Rebecca found out, it’s never too late to change your mind about what school is best for you.

7. If you don’t get into your dream school, it’s not the end of the world.

Your best friend got into the school you’ve been dying to go to since you were three years old, and you didn’t. Go ahead – have a good cry. But after you’ve used up three boxes of tissues and eaten four pints of Ben & Jerry’s, pick yourself back up and come up with a new plan. This has happened to many collegiettes, and while it’s not the ideal situation, sometimes it turns out to be for the best. As you look into other schools, you may realize you like another school better than your dream school. Or it may actually take attending another school for you to realize that your dream school wasn’t for you after all.

Bucknell University collegiette Cameron Simcik says she thought her life was over when she was waitlisted at Boston College, but she eventually found that Bucknell was the best place for her. “I’m so glad I didn’t get into BC, because I now realize it wouldn’t have been a good fit!” Cameron says. “I always try and tell people to keep an open mind when it comes to colleges because you never know where you’re meant to be!”

6. Always (we repeat: ALWAYS) apply to multiple safety schools.
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So you’ve applied to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Brown. You’re bound to get into one, right? Not necessarily. No matter how high of a GPA you have, always apply to a few safety schools (schools that you are likely get into) in case those Ivy Leagues or other top tier schools send rejection letters. And by a few, we don’t mean just one – you aren’t guaranteed a spot at a safety school, either. Apply to two or three safety schools just to be safe, but don’t apply to the first three you can think of. Take a break from decorating your room with Harvard memorabilia and do some research to find safety schools you like and could see yourself attending. Even if these schools aren’t your dream schools, it’s better to have them to fall back on than to have nowhere to go.

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About The Author

Rachel Bennett is the Executive Assistant and Office Manager for Her Campus, where she juggles several responsibilities and assists the National Team in editorial, web and marketing matters. She loves staying busy and maintaining the unique, fun culture of Her Campus through planning office events, corresponding with readers and writers and more. Rachel began at Her Campus in 2011, when she served as an editorial intern and the Love Editor before her senior year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Since graduation, she's interned with J-14 Magazine in New York City as well as for Scott Feinberg, the top awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter. A native of Raleigh, N.C., Rachel loves movies, TV (she's still mourning the end of Breaking Bad), the mountains, breakfast food, road trips and dogs. She also loves her friends and family back home and hopes to soon adjust to the New England winter, which will most likely never happen.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @RachelBennett04