Tips & Tricks: Face College Application Fears

Is October scarier than it was last year? Consumer spending suggests it might be. A report from the National Retail Foundation predicts that Americans will spend a record $6.86 billion on Halloween this year. That’s an increase of more than nine percent.

If you know any high school seniors, you know they’re facing something even scarier through October and November: college applications. Fortunately, XAP offers tools and advice to help them face their fears.

After all, we’ve set some records of our own when it comes to college applications: XAP processed more than 4.1 million electronic applications last year!

Thanks to technology, filling out an actual application isn’t as terrifying as it was in the past, when prospective students had to repeatedly write out their personal details by hand. (Let’s face it: for today’s tech-savvy students, that process sounds downright ghostly).

Subscribers to our college-planning products will know that we help make applications even easier for them by prepopulating personal info from their portfolios into their application.

Sites like our National Application Center take the terror out of the tedium. But reducing repetitious manual tasks doesn’t mean the soul-searching is any easier. Students still have to decide where to send those applications — and which to accept.

Many students write to us asking how they can decide where to apply. After all, it’s a frightening decision! We’ve created tools (like the Explore Schools page on to help them find campuses that fit their needs. We even help them compare schools quickly. (Check out the Comparative View on CSUMentor for one example.)

Ultimately, however, students have to make their final decisions the old-fashioned way: with a little soul-searching. We hear from many students who have a “short list” of schools and can’t finalize their decision, whether they’re deciding where to send their applications or which acceptance letter sounds best. They’re overwhelmed with deciding the best option for academics, while keeping nonacademic factors in mind.

To help make these decisions easier, we’ve put together a list of resources that can help students research colleges when it’s time to make some decisions:

School Counselors: Counselors are trained in the college choice process and often have calendars, application forms and additional information.

Internet: Tools like our school databases are often the best way for students to find specific information about individual schools. It is certainly quicker to get questions answered this way than to wait for pamphlets in the mail.

College fairs: These are gatherings of representatives from different campuses. They may be from around the state or even from all over the country.

College materials: Students can contact the admissions offices at schools that interest them to ask for pamphlets, newsletters and other information pertinent to a new student.

Alumni and personal contacts: Students can talk to people who go (or went) to the school they’re interested in. If they’re not the shy type, this is a very valuable way to get the real picture of campus life. Encourage students to consult their network!

Visiting the school: A campus visit is often the best way to get a true sense of a campus.

Wishing you a safe and fun October! And don’t forget to complete our survey!

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