When most people think of the college application process, they think of a long, difficult, and extremely stressful span of time where they receive rejection after rejection from top schools, but then magically end up where they're supposed to be. Right?

Well, that's pretty much what I thought it was going to be like. And I guess that still held true for me, but I wish I didn't think this way going in.

The college process is strenuous, yes, but it also has the potential to be the most rewarding thing you've ever done if you approach it with the right idea. 

When I applied to colleges, I mostly applied to private, liberal-arts institutions with the lowest acceptance rates I could find that were still attainable with my grades. That makes it sound pretty bad, but that was essentially my thought process. Now, this isn't all wrong, you should aim high, and low, and right in the middle, but that's not what it should be all about.

The college process shouldn't be about how many acceptance letters you get, and how competitive the statistics of those schools are. When I was applying to college, I oftentimes forgot about the fact that this would be my home for 4 years of my life, and focused too heavily on the statistics.

To be fair, I am a numbers person, always have been, but in this case, it's important to forget about the numbers from time to time and think to yourself, do I see myself at this school? Do I want to live this far away or this close to home? Do they have a really strong program for what I am interested in? Will I be able to participate in the clubs and sports I want to do?

Most people do think about these things at one point or another, but I want high school students applying to colleges in a competitive environment to understand that what other people think doesn’t matter.

So if you know people who say things like, "I'm applying to Johns Hopkins University. They have an 11% acceptance rate, but I think I'll get in," don't listen to them. Don't make this about acceptance rates. Don't make this about impressing your friends or relatives by saying "I got into a school with an 11% acceptance rate".

It will feel so much more rewarding to say 4 years later, "I graduated from a college with wonderful grades, grew to really learn more about myself and what I want to do in life, and had the best four years of my life." No one will ask about the statistics of your school.

So although it may be tempting to be able to brag to your high school friends about how competitive of a university you got into, don't do it, and ignore the people who do. Center on what truly matters to you, and you will find the best school for you. It doesn't happen magically either, it takes a bit of research and some work, but if you approach it with the right perspective, I truly believe you will find the right place for you, just like I did.