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As you are sure to find, many frustrations can scuttle even the most diligent students in completing college applications. You may perceive that your writing is not coming as quickly as you would like or that the applications seem to grow in length even as you are trying to complete them. Regardless of your frustration, there is no substitute for devoting quality time to your applications. For several weeks, work to complete all your schoolwork by Friday afternoon so that you may devote some weekend time to making your applications as strong as they can be. Although the rewards of working hard on the applications may seem far off, remember that, in a year or two, your hard work will appear completely worthwhile as you are reminded of the blessing of attending a school that attracts you.


There is a vicious cycle in all human endeavors: Frustration breeds procrastination, and procrastination breeds frustration. The circle continues until broken by the completion of the task at hand. Does this sound like your modus operandi? Would you like to avoid this circle?

Although not popular, we advise not to quit when you become frustrated. Persevere through the initial frustration. As you can see from the cycle, not yielding to the frustration will keep you from allowing procrastination to rear its ugly head. We are not suggesting that you sit until bleary-eyed, struggling over your personal statement for Yale. Exhausting yourself is counterproductive. Instead, we recommend setting small goals for yourself, such as: "During the next three hours, I would like to write the introduction for my Yale personal statement." Smaller goals in smaller time frames are achieved with much greater frequency; also, if you write down your goals, you will much more likely complete them.

Writer's block

If you often struggle with putting pen to paper and actually churning out what you'd like to say, you will benefit from outlining your material ahead of time. Many individuals face great trepidation when forced to record their thoughts; outlines, informal as they are, allow even the most cautious writers to shorten the writing process by giving them freedom to put their thoughts into tentative words.

Also, you may want to make several drafts of your work. This approach takes a great deal of pressure off the initial effort. Most great novels have undergone significant revisions, many to the point that the original manuscript hardly resembles the final product. It is no secret that drafting is essential to taking raw thoughts and turning them into high-quality writing.

There is no substitute for having significant time to devote to completing your applications. Those who wait until the last minute – winter break – will pay dearly. Apparently without time to draft or outline, many writers will flounder under the pressure. You also will suffer for a lack of confidence, knowing that your finished product will resemble only a best "quick" effort.

Why I am doing this again?

When you come to your sixth application, you may wonder what purpose your focus on the applications is serving. You may make some great decisions under these circumstances, as you realize that you would never want to attend the colleges whose applications are remaining. These enlightened thoughts sometimes spring from laziness, but, when you notice a complete lack of interest in applying to one school or another, you may be learning first-hand that you would never want to study there if given the chance.

If you do want to attend the schools corresponding to application six and beyond, however, you may have to "just bloody stretch." Perseverance is an inherent trait of all success, except for a few geniuses who can write brilliant concertos on the first draft or those who envision businesses with eBay-like success while sleep-walking. Your perseverance on your applications will be valuable not only during your college decision process, but it will serve as excellent training for the long nights that stand ahead of you during college. When you have three pages more of a ten-pager to write at 3:23 a.m., you can either "bloody stretch" yourself to finish, or you can accept defeat and whimper into the department office with half-finished work. Perseverance means lasting success, and we hope that you learn it soon, if you don't possess this quality already!