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High School Seniors, I Know How You Feel Right Now

For the first time in many years, I won't be hosting our annual, neighborhood Halloween party. I haven't broken the news to my three kids yet. I just don't have the heart. They look forward to gathering at our house with all of their friends after a successful night of trick-or-treating. But this year, I just can't do it.

I have too many essays to edit and a crazy amount of speeches to give in the days leading up to my family's favorite holiday. October 31st is the day before the biggest deadline in college admissions when most Early Action and Early Decision applications are due. 

High school seniors can relate. Everything seems to be put on hold in order to just get through those "early" deadlines. You feel guilty just as I do. There's no downtime, friend-time, or me-time. But here is what I've learned from being in your shoes and in my shoes for many years:
1. This is temporary. 
Once you submit your Early Action and Early Decision applications, things will get a whole lot better—even those remaining Regular Decision applications that are still looming won't seem as bad. You will be surprised how much easier it is to apply to college #4, #5, and #6 after you submit applications for colleges #1, #2, and #3. 

"Once you submit your #EarlyAction and #EarlyDecision applications, Regular Decision applications will feel like a breeze." TWEET THIS  

2. Lean on your family.
They forgive quickly and they are willing to help with just about anything. My husband lets me read edited essays aloud to him as he cooks dinner for me and the kids. My oldest daughter keeps her younger sister and brother busy while I reply to worried parents and students over Facebook, Instagram, and email. 
3. Essays need to be nurtured.
I write for a living, but it still takes me hours upon hours to write my own pieces and edit students' essays. If an essay only takes you an hour to write and finalize, you haven't given it your best shot.
4. Take the time to review everything.
That extra time that you spend looking over every application and supplement is worth it. I didn't learn this lesson until my freshman year of college when I met my now-husband. He is the slowest, yet most thorough reader and writer I know. I love that about him. He taught me to slow down and pay attention when it matters. 

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5. Focus on what's truly required.
So often, students are so focused on perfecting their resume or figuring out how to send in extra recommendation letters and unnecessary materials like their 60-page research paper. But in the end, it's the required pieces of the application that make the biggest difference.
I have 20 more days of October and so do you. It may seem impossible to get through everything on your plate, but you will. I will too. While I wish I could celebrate Halloween with my friends this year, I will be keeping it low-key with just my husband and three kids. Focusing on what really matters in life is far more fulfilling than anything else.