The one word I hear most in my college planning and counseling adventures is "overwhelmed." Followed, in many instances, by "frustrated," "frightened," and "flabbergasted." [The latter probably being a good SAT word! :-)]

How something so seemingly simply (it actually was just that, back in the days when applications were written by hand and submitted via the United States Postal Service) could be turned into something so complex, complicated, costly, and, in almost every respect, inane.

The insanity of standardized testing. The incredulity of the admissions process. The craziness of Common App. Early Action. Early Decision. Restricted Early Action. Regular. Rolling. Is there Decaf?

Yes, the collegiate industrial complex has taken its toll on students and parents alike, much to the pecuniary benefit of those not-for-profits in name only ala College Board, Common App, and the colleges themselves, looking at us with money bags in their big, greedy eyes, concerned not nearly as much with educating and enlightening as they are with enrollment and the bottom line.

Add to this the ever-ambiguous TMI -- Too Much Information, much of it erroneous. From the Internet to the Guidance office to the talking heads at the PTA meetings. Enough to bring an Einstein to his knees.

Still, when all is said, if far from done, with more than 3000 accredited colleges in this country, there is a good fit for each student; a college that is "best," not for
U.S. News & World Report, but for the student.

Amidst the angst and anger, terror and tears, we must find calm and tranquility (a pint of your fave ice cream and a very large spoon is often most comforting :-), and take solace that you will find a college where you will thrive and have the time of your life. You will get in to (and find the money to pay for) a fantastic school. You will survive the trauma of rejection and, if not today, then, certainly, tomorrow, you will laugh about such meaningless, mindless, meanderings as the SAT, college rankings, "Why Michigan?" and "Describe yourself in 140 characters or less."

Above all, take this whole application and admissions process in stride. Relax. Keep calm and carry on. It's only college!

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