For California’s transfer counselors and staff, the dust is slowly settling after the peak application season. Like running a marathon or spring break in Cancun, after some time passes we’re able to forget the pain and reflect upon the experience. With a little luck and perspective, sometimes a lesson or two emerges. These are a few of mine from this year.

It’s Really Not Just a Season Anymore: Every year it seems like there is less and less of a specific application season as the process creeps across the whole calendar. Ever-changing applications, supplemental apps, post-application follow-up processes, students attending multiple colleges, changes to TAG, the moving targets of impaction criteria, deadlines and extensions, etc., etc. are all blending into a year-round project.

The High Price of Cheap Insurance: It’s amazing to me how often a student won’t invest an extra $55 to apply to an additional school, giving themselves an option that could pay off for the next two years or perhaps even for the rest of their lives. Then again, those same students will work 20 hours per week at $10 per hour, but they won’t invest a couple hours to complete a scholarship application that could net them five times as much. Good thing I never made such silly mistakes…

One App to Rule Them All: Other schools and systems should simply license the right to use the University of California’s application. (No need to name names, but I hope this finds some readers in Long Beach, CA and Arlington, VA.) The UC App is so much more functional and user-friendly than some others that broad adoption of it might just put me out of a job, but it could be worth it for all the headaches it would save students and counselors.

One Rumor to Rule Them All: All of our efforts via email, social media, posters, events, workshops, and class presentations cannot beat the power of one good rumor. A popular one this year on our campus was that the UC app would close – not open – after 10/31. Rumors have the power of Sauron’s armies sweeping across Middle Earth, against which I feel like a mere Hobbit who wants nothing more than a warm hearth and second breakfast.

Apps are Easy: They must be, judging by the number of students who wait until deadline day to start working on them. Oh wait, maybe this should go with the “rumor” part of this post…or maybe I need to write a section about denial.

We Can’t Compete with Internet Cats: While school districts debate the need to teach cursive writing, our students have skipped right past handwriting and email, and are quickly moving past Facebook and Twitter. This is the Instagram and TwitPic generation.  I could write a social media post with the ten most essential words a student may read all year and it would get a handful of views, but if I superimpose those same words over a picture of Miley Cyrus looking upset  or Grumpy Cat twerking, then it will get way more views.

There’s No Greater Reward: Despite all the challenges, is there anything better than seeing a student elated at being admitted to their dream school, or a past student sharing their success stories from the university and beyond? For those experiences and many more, I’m truly grateful for every crazy year that I get to share in their joy.

By Robert Waldren