Filling out college applications can seem like a daunting task, especially when the information you put on it will determine the next four years of your life. It’s no wonder that applying to college is a stressful experience for students, one which their parents tend to underestimate, according to the College Board’s 2010 study "Complexity in College Admission: Fact or Urban Myth." The study found that the more colleges a student applied to the more stressful the application process was for them. While the majority of students applied to an average number of four to five colleges or universities, around one-third of students applied to five or more. Students reported that some of the most stressful things about applying to college were fulfilling all of the different requirements of each application, as well as keeping up with application deadlines while balancing high school responsibilities. Although students aren’t the only ones feeling the pressure when it comes to college applications, parents’ stress level also tended to increase as the number of colleges their child applied to increased. Parents were the most likely to stress out about financial aspects that go along with college applications such as application fees and student aid application.
In between essays, letters of recommendation, and the application itself, many students found that the application process became more stressful depending on how much information they were either required or chose to submit. The task that was most commonly reported as being complicated was that of the admissions essay, it was also the task most likely to be completed as a part of the application process. Seven out of 10 students and parents reported that writing an essay was a required aspect of the application process, with 72 percent of students reporting that they submitted an essay along with their application required or not. The second most common task involved in the application processes concerned letters of recommendation. Two-thirds of students and parents reported that letters of recommendation were a required aspect of the application, although 65 percent chose to get letters of recommendation regardless of requirements. Choosing a specific college within a university to apply to was required for more than one third of students and 44 percent of students made this choice in their application required or not. Additionally, 23 percent of students were interviewed by someone on the admissions staff as a part of the application process and 19 percent had to submit samples of high school work for review.