It’s no secret that applying for college or university can be stressful and daunting. After all, you’ll be making one of the biggest decisions of your life. And with intakes and application deadlines looming, you may find yourself feeling stressed and anxious about making decisions as well as the application process.
To help alleviate the stress and pressure, here are some helpful tips on how to manage your anxiety and get started on applying to the school of your dreams.
#1. Broaden your thinking about “prestige” schools
If you’re in the pursuit to enrol in the best university, chances are you’ll be comparing institutions based on their rankings. While including top ranking institutions in your list isn’t bad, focusing only on “elite” schools will limit your world view.
Malaysia has a broad range of exceptional colleges and universities, from foreign university branch campuses to niche, boutique colleges. Consider researching a variety of schools based on what you’re looking for, whether it’s getting the most out of your programme or one that has exciting extracurricular activities. After all, tertiary education isn’t just about hitting the books — it’s also a place where you discover your passions and goals, develop real-world soft skills and build bonds with like-minded individuals.
So don’t be fixated with getting into that top-ranking dream school as this may increase your stress and anxiety. Instead, focus on what you want out of your college experience.
#2. Don’t compare yourself to your peers
Chances are you probably know someone who has already enrolled for college while you have yet to start. But comparing where you are in the process to your friends will only make you feel more anxious.
It’s important to note that in Malaysia, there are plenty of factors that influence university applications. Are you applying for public universities that have a set deadline via UPU? Or are you planning to study at private universities where deadlines are based on intake dates? Are you comfortable putting your studies on hold while you figure out your next step or sort out your finances? Or are you already firm on your plans?
It’s pointless to compare with your peers if they aren’t on the same path as you. Just manage deadlines at your own pace and you’ll soon catch up with everyone else.
#3. Formulate a solid back-up plan
There’s no question that applying to colleges and universities can be competitive, especially when it comes to programmes like medicine and dentistry. You may fall short and potentially be rejected from schools that you really want the most.
To avoid disappointment, consider more than one college or university. You may very well get into the school of your dreams but you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket and then have things go south. At the same time, you also want to think about other programme options just in case you fall short on the entry requirements.
All in all, having a back-up plan can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety of college applications.
#4. Be receptive to accepting help
If you feel like you’re not making headway with your college plans or you simply just don’t know where to start, there’s no shame in asking for help. Whether it’s your family, friends, teachers and even guidance counsellors, they can provide you with insights and useful resources to better prepare you for what’s ahead.
Consider talking to a senior and how they manoeuvred their university application. Since they’ve experienced it, they can give you a heads up on what to prepare for and what to avoid. Your teachers can help you uncover your strengths so you can see where your potential lies and what course may be suited for you. And most importantly, take full advantage of guidance counselors. With their resources, they can even lay out extra details about the programmes, fees and more.
#5. Write down and organise key information about each college
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you have a list of institutions you’re considering. Couple that with all the information to digest and important deadlines and required documents to remember and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Instead of keeping track of everything mentally, write down all the important things and organise them. This could be deadlines, fee structure, whether you need to sit for an interview, documents required and if there’s any supplementary information needed. Consider organising them according to institution so you can weigh your pros and cons.
Most importantly, create a checklist of all the things you need to do and cross them off once it’s completed. This way, you’ll be less stressed out and overwhelmed when you have it all prepared.
#6. Relax and keep a positive attitude
The most important thing is to stay calm and keep a positive attitude. If you plan ahead, prepare all the basic documents beforehand and apply to a balanced list of institutions, you’ll get into the college that’s right for you!
Sure, applying for university can be stressful but by managing your anxiety and taking the right steps, you’ll see that you can manage the workload and time just fine. And despite the process being all consuming, remember that this is only for a while and it’ll be over in a few months time!
Applying for college can be overwhelming and confusing, but by breaking it down into steps, you will find that it isn’t so daunting after all. All the best!