Every year on the College Hopes & Worries Survey, we include an optional question at the end that asks respondents what advice they have for next year's applicants and parents of applicants. Here, in their own words, are the suggestions and tips from our student respondents. Enjoy!

On the College Application Process

  • A main factor is to start early. Make sure you begin looking at colleges as early as possible to see what each has to offer. Begin the main parts of your applications as soon as they come out, so you won’t be rushed right before they’re due. In the end, everything happens for a reason, so please don’t stress because everything will be okay. I know it is a hard time for some people, but it’s just a few months and after the fact, you’ll most likely be happy. —Angela H.

  • The earlier you start the more time you have to make sure you do everything right and check forms and applications. More time also helps reduce stress!—Paulina H.

  • Start doing college research as soon as possible so that there is not any potential stress for the student or parent when the application deadline is due.—Yajayra F.

  • Get on top of the process early on; do not procrastinate, start essay prompts the summer of and build as many strong bonds with teachers to ensure good teacher recommendations.—Erin J.

  • Always double check the due dates for applications, financial aid, and housing because there is very little, if any, wiggle room in regards to those dates.—Britni L.

  • Applicants should not fear the College Application process. In fact, the process allows applicants to see how much their work over the past four years has paid off and which colleges respect the work you put in.—Matthew H.

  • Apply to different places because you never know where the application process will take you. You might end up going to a school that you never wanted to apply to in the first place.—Madeleine A.

  • Begin researching what colleges you might want to attend in the summer of your junior year. This way you can devote the beginning of your senior year to filling out applications and writing application essays.—Qi H.

  • Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines! Do not very procrastinate especially on college applications.—Alexandra G.

  • Don't be too stressed about not being ready; college applications are a process. Commit a small portion of your time each day (an hour, thirty minutes, even fifteen), and you can be very much prepared.—Julia

On Stress

  • Don't stress it will all work out in the end. —Alayni

  • Make time to relax and know that whatever decision you make doesn’t have to be set in stone, if you choose a college you don’t like you could always transfer. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it will pay off. —Lauren L.

  • Just be calm—don’t get caught up in all the stress that the college application process creates. Keep your friends and family close and you will be fine. —Isaac R.

  • Don't give up. Some may get exhausted, stressed and even frustrated with the process. People would do best to think of all the positive outcomes and push through so they can get the end result that they want. —Cassandra Z.

  • Breathe. Relax. Calm down. This is going to be a stressful, especially until you fill up your college applications, but it's totally going to be worth it. —Tanya A.

  • Don't overthink it. You'll end up where you need to end up so don't get so hung up on the acceptance rates. Find the place where you belong and try your hardest to be there. —Lily G.

  • Just stay calm and think. Look at all your options. Don't double think, just do. Take some time to calm your nerves and destress yourself. —Riley G.

  • Don't stress out too much. It's okay to be worried/nervous because this is your future. Remember that you are not alone and everyone goes through the same thing. There will always be someone to help you follow your dreams. —Shaina R.

  • Finding the perfect college is super hard, but the outcome for working hard is much greater than the stress that may come your way. Keep searching, keep growing, there's a place for you. —Michelle B.

  • Don't worry too much, because worrying won't get you anywhere. Take one step at a time, and you'll get through it. —Indrakshee G.

  • I definitely wouldn't forget to have fun, there's really no point in going to a four year college and absolutely dreading it. —Felix Z.

On Standardized Admission Tests

  • Make sure to complete all standardized tests as soon as possible so they can be redone if the results aren't as expected. —Aryaman K.

  • really hard for the SAT/ACT. Hard work will surely pay off when the time comes. —Tanvir B.

  • Take your GPA and SAT scores seriously. —Amiya W.

  • Focus on ACT/SAT test scores. Tutors, whatever it takes. Get the scores up. —Jax R.

  • Study for standardized tests in advance, do not ever cram. — Rashard S.

  • Enroll in test prep and college prep programs. —Ayana S.

  • Take the ACT and SAT as many times as you can to get the highest score. Set goals for your GPA and meet them. —Stephanie

  • Take tutoring for SAT and ACT. Do as many AP and SAT Subject Tests as possible. —Reshmi R.

  • Study and get a higher SAT/ACT than is needed for a particular school because you might change your mind and might need a higher score. —Isabella

  • Create a spreadsheet to document important information, like deadlines, average test scores, specific tests the college requires, and location/size of the college. This way, you will know beforehand about certain tests you have to take, or the number of points you must improve on the SAT/ACT to become a more competitive applicant for the college. —Bonnie N.

On College Visits

  • College visits are so important! Narrow down your list of colleges that you want to apply to and I highly recommend visiting them if it’s in your budget. It helps you learn more about not only the campus life, but the school in general and if it will be the best fit for you. —Madison O.

  • Go on college visits throughout the summer so you can get to know the college campus a little bit and have information of the expenses and the overall environment of the college. —Yasmeen Y.

  • Take the time to visit various campuses that have your academic needs. You will be surprised by visiting schools you did not know about or did not think you would like. —Michael P.

  • Visit as many schools as possible. One may seem to be perfect, but then you visit another school and that one seems like a perfect fit, trust me I know this from past experience. Find a college that makes you feel at home while away from home. —Brandon K.

  • Visit the campuses. Every school looks wonderful in photos or on their website so it is important to see it for yourself and get a feel for the campus when school is in session. —Jennifer O.

  • Go on college tours, make it fun. Find a college that just feels like the place for you. —Helene M.

  • Start visiting colleges early. During your sophomore year would be ideal. Then you will be able to see the campuses of many of the colleges on your long list. Do the campus tours and information sessions. They all will seem like the same tours but campuses you love you will know. If they offer a summer session/camp, attend. Also, if they offer an overnight stay during fall/winter semester, attend. It is nice to see if you can see yourself there for the next 4 years. —Addison C.

On Parenting

  • To the parents, don't stress out your children with questions, I'm sure they are already stressed as it is. —Sofia P.

  • To parents of applicants: Have open discussions with your child about what they want to do and what they are looking for in a college! Try not to impose your ideal future onto your child, because in the long run they may find that what you want them to do is not what they want out of life. It saves time, money, and prevents family rifts if a child is doing what he/she wants to do in terms of their college experiences. Just make sure that whatever field they go into, they are on top of their work and make an attractive applicant. —Kaitlyn R.

  • Parents, be there for your child and push them to be better. Do not push them too hard to their breaking point, but push them enough so they want to be something. —Iana F.

  • Don't let your parents sway your decision. It is the first big decision you get to make so make the right one, take your parent’s input but don't let them choose for you. —Jack L.

  • Always listen to your child’s wants and needs. Letting them making the decision for themselves means they are making the decision that will be best for them. They have to be in charge of their future. —Sheryl Z.

  • Choose a college that fits you and is best for you. Don't pick one because your parents want you to go there or because one will ‘look better’ on your resume. It is your life, your choice. Don’t stress too much, everything will work out. —Ashley P.

  • For parents to be supportive of their children always and to be there emotionally to uplift their children so that the same compassion shared with the children is spread through them and that they may learn to also spread that compassion. —Andrew N.

  • I would recommend that applicants let their parents take an active role in helping them with college. It certainly makes things much easier. —Nicholas L.

  • To all parents of stressed, college applicants- be supportive! Your support can get your child through anything. —Alexandra H.

On Money Matters

Don't let them make you pay for college. Make colleges pay you. —Hannah A.

Apply for as many scholarships sooner rather than later that way paying for college won’t be as much of a financial burden. —Cecilia

If a college truly wants you to attend, they will help with finances. —Amy L.

Make sure you are communicating with your parent/child about finances and tuition costs, this helps both the student and the parent decide what school best fits their financial needs without going into extreme debt. —Rachel M.

I would hope that students and their parents applying to college fully realize how much the cost of college and getting into a college is expensive. Save early. —Reese S.

Make sure you put your education first and then worry about the money. Money can be paid off if the degree you receive gives you the opportunity for higher wages and more income. —Justin A.

Money should never come in between the choice of you and your dream college there are ways to get loan forgiveness and many opportunities for scholarships you just have to go out and look for them. —Carlynna M.

Apply for financial aid, and choose a college that your child likes but is also affordable. Your child might not go to the more expensive school and that's fine. —Quan B.

On Rejection

Don’t be discouraged. You will end up where you are meant to be. —Emma S.

You have to always be ready for possible rejection but push yourself up because there will always be other opportunities—sometimes better opportunities. —Hana A.

While test scores and college rejections are hard on self-esteem, they do not define you. You deserve to go to a good college, and those who cannot see that are not worth your time. —Madeleine P.

Apply to many colleges; it is better to receive a rejection letter than wonder ‘what if?’ —Arianna R.

Even though you might not get into your first choice, everything happens for a reason and all you have to do is believe and a miracle might come. —Dejah S.

Don't worry so much about not being accepted to your ‘dream school.’ Applying is stressful and the wait is difficult, but remember to not compare yourself to your peers and to see the excitement in the experience. —Leah

Keep an open mind. Not all colleges will accept you. But try hard and work hard and all will end well. —Faith T.

On Choosing Which College to Attend

Apply to colleges that you want to go to. Don’t let others dictate your decisions on what type of college you want to attend. —Laura

Don’t sell yourself short! Anything is possible. Stick to your roots and choose a college that best represents who you are, but definitely don’t think a school is out of reach. —Davis U.

Don’t make any rushed decisions when choosing a school. — Joseph

Explore all your options and take your time looking at colleges. —Mackenzie C.

It's not about going to the best college, it's about going to the best fit for you. —Rebecca J.

Choose a college that best benefits you, don’t just go where your significant other or friends are going. —Heather C.

Don’t be too worried. There are plenty of colleges out there and plenty of options. Just try your best and follow your heart. —Rachel S.

Don’t be too afraid and picky with colleges just because they’re not known for something, you might be surprised by the colleges that you hadn’t given a second thought. —Lauren M.

Apply to as many places as possible, take risks, and keep your options open. —Chidera I.

Have fun, make the decision for yourself not those around you. —Katherine S.

Be clear about what you want to achieve and don't let a university's reputation skew your vision for the future. —Charles E.

Wise, Funny or Both

Aim high and cheap! —Hasson G.

As long as you put your mind to it, you can do anything. —Nico E.

Believe in yourself, do not plagiarize, and just tell the truth. —Roseline S.

Chill out, everything will turn out fine. —Cole D.

Do it as soon as you can – don’t procrastinate. — Isabella L.

Get some sleep. —Frank Y.

Follow your heart, take chances because you only live once... it's a fact. —Reanna G.

Grit your teeth and keep going. The reward is worth the months, days, and hours of hard work and worry. —Megan B.

It will be worth it. —Gabriel G.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time. —Sarah F.

Think of it this way, looking at colleges or having your dream school is like having multiple crushes and when you get accepted it's like them saying they have a crush on you, too. Then once you commit it's as if you are now in a committed relationship. —Jenna P.

Praise for The Princeton Review

Fill out everything early and do the research on the colleges. Use The Princeton Review to narrow choices. —Ethan H.

Get a head start in researching your universities and majors of choice. Do not wait until the last minute to look for scholarships that you might be eligible for. Utilize programs like The Princeton Review to help you with your ACT/SAT goals. —Halima J.

I recommend that you start studying for the SAT/ACT starting the summer of sophomore year. Use Princeton Review books and do as many practice tests as you can under real test conditions. —Abram G.

Stay positive and use The Princeton Review's resources —Austin B.

Take the ACT sooner with proper exposure and prep such as The Princeton Review. —Gwendolyn R.

Don’t stress too much! It’ll all work out! Also, you will be on top of everything by using The Princeton Review. —Emily V.

With programs such as The Princeton Review, the stress can be minimized, and for parents of college applicants: your child is already stressed, pressure it going to stress them out further! —Roma B.

As far as the SAT, buy Princeton Review's SAT online self-paced course. Do an hour every day, every Sunday take a full-length test. Read the news, buy Princeton Review's prep book, read books in your spare time. —Brianna C.

The Princeton Review thanks all the students who shared these comments and tips and the thousands of others we heard from on our survey. Our customers are our best advisors and counselors!

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