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Who better to ask for advice than students who have recently been through the college process? This week’s blog is written by Christopher Musselman at Senior at Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder majoring in finance and real estate. Christopher is a graduate of East High School class of 2014.

The college application process is admittedly both one of the most tedious and daunting experiences anyone has to go through on their way to university. During my senior year of high school, I had no idea the implications and importance of my choices and decisions during this time. Now, as I prepare to graduate from college, I have been able to reflect on those decisions. Through my reflection, I have created a better understanding of the things that I wish I had done during this time and want to share them with anyone who is applying for college. Specifically, I am writing this to my little brother who I want to learn from my mistakes and make better decisions than I did.

1. Reach

There is nothing scarier than the idea of failing. Especially at an age where you feel like each decision will dictate the rest of your life. I had this same feeling and didn’t apply to some of the schools that I dreamed of because I didn’t want to receive the rejection letter in the mail. I ended up getting into every school I applied for, and although this may seem like a great accomplishment, I now view it as a failure. If you’re not being rejected, you’re not reaching high enough. Break out of your comfort zone and apply to the schools you think you have no shot getting into. You never know.

2. Take the Application Process Seriously

Everyone knows that applying for college is boring. It’s no secret that filling out long repetitive forms and writing essays about yourself is not fun. When I was looking for schools, I let this get the best of me and chose not to apply just because I was bored. Sometimes in life, you have to sacrifice personal enjoyment for what’s best for you. If you think applications are boring, wait until you start school at a college that you hate because you didn’t apply to others.

3. Do Your Research

This is one of the most important things I can emphasize when looking at schools. So many people go to colleges with expectations around what their experience will be like just to learn it’s nothing like they thought it would be. If you are going to a school and you’re interested in anything from Greek life to acapella club, make sure you learn about them before you go. So many of my friends have gone to schools expecting things that the school doesn’t offer. Do your research up front and save yourself the disappointment.

4. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Applying for school is very stressful and scary, and for a lot of people including myself, this makes it hard to talk about with parents and advisors. I know parents can be annoying and pester you about college all day and night, but it’s just because they care and want the best for you. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you will find out what a fantastic resource these people can be. Take the time to sit down with your parents, friends parents, advisors or anyone who can help. Tell them your goals, and I promise you they will do nothing but work tirelessly on your behalf to help you achieve anything you want.

5. Have Fun

Finally, just have fun with it. College is one of the most amazing and fun times of your life. It teaches you independence and allows you to expand your horizons through new friendships and learning experiences. Find somewhere that you will force you to push yourself both through education and unique social experiences. College is a time for personal development, fun, and learning. Don’t let stress dictate where you go. No matter how stressful things seem now, you’re gonna be fine, and you’re going to excel anywhere you go and in anything you do.