As Thanksgiving comes to an end, I find myself looking back with a lot to be thankful for. I got to eat lots of good food, got to spend a lot of time with my loved ones, and enjoyed a year of fairly good health.
However, there was even more to it.
I gotta boast for a second; I got my darn Common App finished, something that had been hanging over my head since the summer. The Common App is an undergraduate college admission application that can be shared with up to 10 member colleges and universities. It was a real pain to complete this, but now that I’ve slain that dragon, I am one step closer to reaching college, and it makes me supremely happy.
Examining the months it took me to finish the Common App, working on and off as one does, I found that finishing it was a total pain in the neck. I pity anyone who scrambles at the last minute; they simply will not be able to get it done. It was bad enough without that added stress.
I’d guess that the entire application has roughly 100 questions throughout several different fields. Even if someone knew all the answers — and I did not — it would take several hours to fill and check every one. Also, depending upon the colleges one wishes to enter, there may be much more than a single essay to write. I was part of this multi-essay portion, and I regretted it.
Out of everything though, it was not the essays I found to be most demanding; I am rather comfortable writing if you couldn’t already tell. Rather, it was the endless amount of questions, demanding one to search themselves to predict their lives in a certain college.
How am I supposed to know now what I’ll do in several years, especially considering how different those years will be from now?
Though it mattered little how I answered, it provoked a great deal of thought that made providing an answer rather slow, especially for someone so prone to overthinking.
There were also many questions that just made no sense, and more than once I had to seek guidance from both parent and counselor. I pity and admire those who completed their app single-handedly; I have no idea how they could have done it.
However much I needed help though, finding a good time to meet my counselor was nearly impossible. Their schedule was always filled, and on the days we scraped a few moments together, one of us was always indisposed. It was a curse.
With each missed appointment, the stress did nothing but rise. Ironically, my preemptive efforts to finish the Common App made it more stressful. It was almost as bad as it might have been had it been left till the last minute. I placed a great deal of pressure on myself to see it finished, and I only made my life worse.
It would probably have been a better idea to work on it a bit each weekend, taking my time but always keeping the deadline in mind. Life is filled with enough stress without the Common App.
I could live a perfectly filled life without that added task: Does this girl like me? Do I like her? Am I being a good son and friend? Am I working hard enough in school? I mean seriously. How do adults do it?
Eventually, though, I made my way through the questions. I completed each of the dozen sections, triple checking for any errors and finding none. However, I somehow forgot to worry about all the essays.
For me, there were half-a-dozen different write-ups to finish, this being roughly half of the original number. I cut a few colleges that were unneeded, but the biggest and most difficult essay was unavoidable, this being the main essay itself.
I had originally written one that was 850 words, and it was perhaps one of the best I had ever written. However, the limit for the Common App was 650. I saw this and had a minor heart attack. I had to shear off more than 200 words, but I was a blessed man that day. The original was a bit wordy, so I made the cuts rather easily.
That essay and the others were still a real challenge though; many of the smaller essays required me to make predictions just as the other questions had. I suppose by then I was better at it, but it still took a bit of effort.
Did I say I was glad it is over?
I intend this column to be a warning for the future college applicant; though the Common App may be easier than this to complete, it will still take a lot of effort. I feel I cannot stress enough that you start early. You will need months to work on this unless you are a superhuman who has no motivation issues or life.
Ultimately, this achievement comes with an upside and downside. The former is that finally finishing this made my Thanksgiving turkey that much more delicious, and my year less stressful and busy. The latter is that this was literally the easiest part.
Welp, before I make this victory look more like a draw, I want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and good health! Stay safe and stay happy.
This series titled In My Son’s Words features the experiences of my son, Joseph, as a teenager and a child of a single parent.
If you would like to contact him, please email email@example.com.