In all my seventeen years, I knew January first as the start of a new year, but this year there is a whole new layer to that. Almost all my college applications are due on the first day of 2014 and it’s been a whole month of frantic writing. Common App claims a position as one of the most viewed pages and there can never be enough hot chocolate. Although I started writing my personal statement last summer, there’s nothing like a good old clock to appear next to colleges on the Common App to really boost productivity. The tree is decorated, lights strung, and presents wrapped, but I spent this Christmas in my pajamas racking my brain for ideas about something noteworthy — ordinary, but meaningful — that happened in my life.

The most important thing to do is research the college fully. Friends asked why I wanted to attend this university or that college and I realized I didn’t know enough to give them a convincing answer. After spending a couple hours thoroughly searching the website, student blogs, or even the YouTube videos the college uploaded, I started to get a sense of the community, the curriculum, and the type of education each college had. Of course along the way, I found some colleges on my list that really weren’t compatible with my personality and learning style. It’s easier to answer a question about your extra-curricular activities or inspiring women in history if you understand what sort of values the college stresses. Some universities emphasize creativity while other universities want a more straightforward answer.

In the beginning of my supplement writing days, I thought a quick short cut would be to copy and paste existing essays rather than to create something new and brilliant. Instead, like Frankenstein, I created a monster with good intentions, but so haphazardly that everyone rejected it. Although it seems like a good idea to take pieces of essays you already wrote and mesh them together, it’s pretty obvious that you didn’t put in enough work to write something original, insightful, and well organized.

Double-check your application twice before you submit and make sure all the fields are completed. There’s nothing more you can after pressing the send button, so try to forget about it and enjoy the first day of the New Year without any more college applications to worry about!

By Lizzie Bennett