Every time I think about applying to anything—a job, an apartment, or a school—my mind just goes blank and refuses to move forward. It’s like I’m staring at a huge ocean, with no idea how to swim. Faced with that ocean, there’s no way I’d want to step into its water—which is why a lot of times, my applications never even get started.

Hopefully, this isn’t how you feel right now as you work on your college applications. If it is, don’t worry—you’re not alone. While it may feel like you are swimming in deeper waters than you’re comfortable with and no one is around to throw you a buoy, the truth is that there are a lot of people who are willing and eager to help you. As you begin your college applications, you don’t have to feel like it’s all on you to stay afloat—this isn’t a sink-or-swim type of scenario. Sometimes you can only find success by looking to those around you for assistance. While you may feel like an inexperienced swimmer now as you start your college applications, learning from those around you can boost both your confidence and your strengthen your ability to brace the waves.

Your Resources to Help You “Swim”

There are a lot of different people to get advice from when you’re choosing and applying for universities. I’ve been able to look back and see that I missed opportunities for guidance either because I didn’t know about them in high school or I didn’t appreciate them for what they were worth. Seeing this, I’ve put together a quick list of a few people you can turn to for help when it comes to taking this important step into the future.

  1. Family and Friends

    family holding hands at beach

This one may seem a little obvious, but I never thought of my family as a resource when I was trying to fill out my applications (other than for reviewing my essays). I definitely could have gotten more help than that. To return to the ocean analogy, I basically chose to wade into the water without even asking for tips from those already swimming. You’d think I would have wanted to learn how to swim from them before jumping in, right? But for whatever reason, I thought I was on my own.

The benefit to asking family and friends is that anyone who has been to college before will be able to give you at least some advice for how to prepare for and apply to a university.  And even those who haven’t been to college might be able to tell you a thing or two about how to present yourself well on paper. So take advantage of that! They’ll be able to tell you what helped them and what didn’t. Then you can tailor your own application based on what you learn from them.

  1. Teachers, Counselors, and Leaders

    swim instructor teaching a class

Basically anyone you know who has already served some sort of teacher or mentor role for you can help as you apply to college. These people are all around you, whether that be in school, in sports, in clubs, in church, or anywhere else. But the only way you can get their help is by asking them for it, which is something I was never willing to do. Call it shyness, or just plain pride, but I never thought to ask the many leaders I had already learned so much from. In essence, I had plenty of swim instructors to teach me, but I never even showed up to swim class.  

Think of it, if I had just asked my humanities teacher about his thoughts on the humanities major (my area of study), I could have known so much more about what I was really getting myself into Or if I had asked any of my church leaders who went to the schools I was applying to, I could have made my essays so much more specific and focused. It’s questions like these that will help you with your own college application, and I’m sure you have plenty of people in your life that are willing to offer answers.

  1. University Writing Centers

    lifeguard watching swimmers

I never even knew that these existed before I went to college, but believe it or not, writing centers are a great place to go for help with your application. Now, I know that not everyone will have easy access to these facilities, but if you happen to live anywhere close to a university (it doesn’t have to be the one you are applying to), it would be worth it to check out their writing center. A lot of times, writing centers will help not only university students, but also anyone in the community—this is a resource many have no idea they can use! And truthfully, writing centers can save your life sometimes. 

The reason that I even know about this option is because I work at my own university’s writing center. I have personally met with a few people who were applying for college and wanted me to take a look at their application essays. The great thing about this is that writing centers have trained tutors who have been taught what to look for in all types of writing—including personal statements. So why not look up a writing center and give them a call?

It’s Time to Jump into that Ocean

girl jumping into ocean

Even with just this short list here, it’s already pretty apparent that when it comes to college applications, there’s no reason to face them alone. Your friends, your teachers, your neighbors, and your dog all want to see you succeed, and you have the resources to do so! As you look out at that unknown ocean of applications, know that you can and will be able to swim through it. With all of the helpful people around you, there’s no reason to fear you might sink. Instead, you can be confident that you’ll swim, and swim strong.


Want more application advice? CollegeVine can also help with their mentorship program. Check it out here!


Christina Crosland

Christina Crosland

Christina Crosland is currently a senior studying Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brigham Young University. Since the day she was born, Christina has called the West her home, and she is proud to say that she graduated from a little high school in Idaho. And while her home lies in one place, her heart lies in the great unknown. Traveling has always been her interest and reading of fantastical journeys her passion.
Christina Crosland