Written by: Morgan Winder, MSW, LMSW

It’s that time of year again; most seniors are feeling a mixed bags of emotions, overwhelmed, excited yet fearful of the college application process and what this means for their future. Colleges tend to the topic of most conversations between friends, family and facility at their high school. As a therapist that works with several teens, I often hear the negative self-talk around college and the experience of new triggers of anxiety around the college application process.

Phrases I often hear are “What if I don’t get in”, “What if they get into that school and I don’t”, “What if I’m not good enough”, “My essay and credentials aren’t good enough”, “My peers and family will be so disappointed if I don’t get in” “People will judge me if I go to that school”. As you can tell from these statements, an exciting new journey and chapter of someone’s life can easily get clouded in negative self-talk. Here’s the best way I like to explain the college application and selection process to my clients.

The College process is A LOT like dating

It’s an interesting comparison, I know but let’s peel back the layers on this. We all have different types, wants, needs and attraction toward certain physical and emotional aspects in a relationship. This isn’t much different than our experiences with colleges. With that being said, it can be easy to want the “dream” and “ideal” college experience or compare your wants and needs to others, however this can greatly affect our self-esteem and skew our perception on the college progress. It is important to think about these concepts when you are in the college process and in any stage of selecting a college.

Comparing Yourself to Others

Our individual wants & needs are so different and everyone is unique that is not fair to compare ourselves, our college experience/process to others. Just like it is unhealthy to compare romantic relationships, we cannot compare our college process. It is easy to compare school types, Ivy League status, out-of-state versus in state, etc. However, what will fit someone else’s wants & needs might not exactly fit ours, and that’s okay.

Perfectionism & Being You

Set realistic expectations on the college application process and admission. It is detrimental to our mental health to have the expectation that we need to go to the “perfect” college and “applications need to be perfect.” It is extremely crucial to be yourself, to express your wants and needs not others. Just as you would want to on a first date, being yourself is what separates you from others and is the most authentic version of yourself. This is how you will properly match with the right college and ultimately feel the most confident and increase self-esteem.


Morgan is a Licensed Master Social Worker, she completed her degree with a concentration of direct practice with children, youth and families. Morgan specializes in working with teens, and families. Morgan is passionate on helping teens with anxiety, depression and self-esteem.