The Final Stretch: How to Navigate Looming Deadlines

The Final Stretch: How to Navigate Looming Deadlines

With the first dusting of snow here at Olin last night, it finally hit me that winter is here, and with that comes college application deadlines. Deadlines always seem to creep up on us, and with Olin’s deadline, January 4th quickly approaching, the scramble and stress may set in. We all procrastinate sometimes, it’s just human nature. But how do we handle the feelings that come with the aftermath of procrastination? Sometimes a college application deadline can generate anxiety for students and as a past procrastinator myself, I have since learned helpful tips and tricks to manage my time and anxiety surrounding deadlines and big projects. To alleviate some of the stress, I want to share my take on how to reduce stress and anxiety around deadlines, and particularly around the college application process.

Tip #1: Schedule out your time!

Set aside time for yourself to work on your application. I live by my google calendar while others love writing things down. Whichever way you like to plan out your days, schedule blocks to focus on your application. To give yourself more structure, write out which part of the application you’ll be working on during each block. One block for the personal essay, one for the Olin essays, one for activities, and so on. Being specific and breaking things into manageable chunks helps with feeling overwhelmed as you know exactly what you are going to work on when!

Tip #2: How to Unblock Writer’s Block

Essays can be hard to start, especially when they’re about yourself. It’s challenging to talk about yourself and writing about challenging moments or moments of growth can be even harder. My advice when you start is to just write down everything in your head. This exercise isn't meant to write a perfect paper, but it’s to clear your head so doesn’t have to make any sense! Seeing all your ideas in front of you makes it easier to organize your thoughts and helps you choose which topic you feel most passionate or proud of.

Tip #3: Breaks! Rewards! Pride! Oh my!

Working on and submitting a college application is no small feat. But as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a personal essay. Make sure to take breaks while working on the application. If you are crunched for time, take little breaks to stretch your mind and give your brain a rest. That could look like eating a snack, going for a walk, talking to a friend, or really anything that isn’t your application! I am not recommending that breaks last for hours or days, especially if the deadline is quickly approaching, but setting a timer to take a break every 45 minutes or so is shown to help us be more productive and to help us do our best work. These breaks could even factor in a reward to recognize the hard work you have done! This could look like so many things! My favorite work break reward is 5 minutes of Tik Tok scrolling. As I mentioned above, a completed college application is not something to be overlooked. Remember to take pride in your hard work and let yourself feel accomplished. Maybe even share this accomplishment with someone else to really celebrate! There are so many people who will be really proud of you!

I could go on forever with my unsolicited advice on how to handle procrastination and looming deadlines, but if you haven’t submitted your application yet, you might want to stop reading and start working on your essays in all seriousness, working on your college application is a combination of exciting and scary, but know we are excited to read every single one!

Happy Holidays and good luck!

Julia Brown