As most of you remember, the college application and admissions process was one of the more stressful times during high school. It certainly was for me. After I endured the agony of picking schools, writing personal statements, filling out applications, taking standardized tests, and participating in admissions interviews, I felt like I had literally gone through the mouth of hell. But, in the end, I came out of it all relatively unscathed, and was accepted to the school that I really wanted to attend.
The beauty of getting into college is that you won’t be tested, judged, and evaluated to that degree throughout most of your undergraduate experience. Sure, you’ll have to study, and you’ll have to take exams, and maybe apply for internships or research positions, but other than that, you basically focus on work, study, and your social life—you basically coast by. That is, until you graduate. Then the dreaded process starts all over again. Here are a few ways we can learn from the past:
1. Stress is Your Enemy
Worrying about the future is common and we pretty much all experienced it during the college admissions process. The thing about worry is that it is often irrational. I, too, worried about the fact that I may be unemployed. But then the worry spiraled. I thought to myself, I’ll never get a job, I’ll never be successful, I’ll never amount to anything. In cognitive behavioral science, this thinking process is a cognitive distortion called overgeneralization. It’s the slippery slope mentality, and it makes absolutely no sense.
2. You aren’t being judged. Only the extent to which you are a “fit” for a certain gig is being gauged.
Interviews are always intimidating, no matter how confident or good at gabbing you are. But the one mindset with which many come into the interview process—whether for school or work– is that their interviewers are somehow “against them” or that they are trying to “trick” them. These, too, are irrationalities. Come into your future work interviews with your interviewer’s perspective in mind. They want to know what tangible things you can do for their company, and how closely you will fit into their workplace culture. If you really want the job, then research the business or organization, and try to communicate and demonstrate these qualities. It’s that simple.
3. Don’t be too picky, but don’t take your first acceptance either.
One thing that many suffer from on a day-to-day basis is decision making. This one’s always tough. During the admissions process, many apply to far too many schools, and then once acceptances roll in, they find themselves having to make very tough choices. On the other hand, perhaps you were so excited by that first acceptance letter that you wanted to go to that school simply because they embraced you first. While the school that you go to really doesn’t make much of a difference in the long run, the first job you have will make a difference. It will dictate your future career trajectory, no matter how entry-level or boring it is. So pick wisely. Don’t take the first thing that is handed to you, but don’t go to the other extreme and reject every offer just because it’s not exactly what you want. Above all, think through your decision carefully, talk about it with friends and family members whose opinions you respect, and trust your instincts.