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DeanDear fellow WHS seniors: In case you’re like me and the reality of this year hasn’t set in yet, let me remind you. Next year, we will be in college. In order to go to college, we have to actually apply. Crazy, right?

I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone in the process. I’m here to tell you stories about my application journey, so you know that you’re not the only one who had silly questions and moments of unnecessary panic.

First, let the gravity of this situation set in. This is it. One of the colleges you’re going to apply to is the college where you will spend the next few years of your life. I know that sounds obvious. But really consider: This is a turning point. This is our future. And we’re starting it right now. This moment and decision will define the rest of our lives.

I ask only two things of you: Be sure, and be happy. Don’t question your instincts. And don’t question your dreams, please. Now is the time to trust them and let them lead. You have to be happy with your decision. You. Listen to your heart, and listen to your voice.

Some college out in Missouri might be the favorite school of your great-aunt on your mother’s side. However, she’s not the one going there. She’s not the one who will live there and build the next stage of her life there. Listen to the people who are close to you. But don’t forget that yours is the most important voice in this process.

Also, you’re not alone. We’re all going through the same thing — with a little variety. When I was writing my admissions essay, naught but a week ago, I was totally over-thinking it.

“Wait. This is the essay that’s going to get me into college. This isn’t just another paper for a class at school,” I said. “I have to talk about myself. That’s so awkward. OK, I can do it. I better make myself sound good. Wait. If I’m talking too much about myself, that doesn’t look good. That looks like I’m full of myself. I don’t want colleges to think I’m full of myself! Wait. If I don’t build myself up enough, they’re going to think I’m not good enough to get in. What am I supposed to do now?!”

This is one of those moments where other people are extraordinarily helpful. We tend to get a little crazy when the pressure’s on. Who else but my mom would step in and bring me back down to earth just moments before my head exploded from all the over-thinking? (It’s always the moms. You know why? They’re always right! I hate it.) She told me to just be myself and that everything I could ever want colleges to know about me would just come through.

I hope by this point, you’re laughing. Not just because my panic attacks are humorous but because you had one of these moments too. Besides telling an embarrassing story, I do have a point. And my point is this: Don’t forget what you’re doing. And don’t forget who surrounds you. You’re not alone. And you do have a voice. It’s about time you use it.

Perrin Dean is a senior at Wilsonville High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Spokesman this school year.

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