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Beat stress during college application season

If you've made it to senior year, by now your stack of unopened college info packets is up to your ceiling. Even though you told yourself you would start college applications over the summer, you procrastinated. Now, as the deadlines are speeding closer, you're juggling tons of homework, SAT/ACT prep, nagging parents and guidance counselors and your own guilt for putting it off. • How to balance it all? • Here are five suggestions for fighting the stressors of the college application process:

1 Don't wait, turn it in! It will reduce your stress and let you enjoy senior year a lot more. "I give myself plenty of time, especially with essays," said Academy of the Holy Names senior Carly Stagg. "I write my essays far in advance, so I can review them several times before I actually turn them in." Make deadlines for yourself and schedule time to work on applications so that you finish on time.

2 Talk it out. You should never have to feel alone through this process. There are plenty of people around you who have either already suffered through the application process or are currently working through it, just like you. If you need help with the application or just need to let off steam, there are many people you can go to.

• Seek help from a guidance counselor. Do not hesitate to ask any questions about the applications or your essay. Helping you is their job.

• Talk to high school alumni. Ask questions about their own college process and experiences. They will most likely be more than willing to share the pros and cons of their own college or university.

• Chat with your parents. Many parents are as stressed out as you about this process, and they're hounding you to finish your applications. But they really do enjoy being involved in your life, so clue them in! Tell them what you're thinking as far as college selections and applications. Have them proofread your essays.

• Rant to your friends. Sometimes all you need is a close bud to share feelings with. Who's going to understand the stressors of the college process better than a friend, especially one who's dealing with the same issue?

3 Hit the gym! Take an hour to release built-up stress through physical exercise. Run, jog, bike, or jump into the nearest pool and swim a few laps. Maddie Cahill, Academy of the Holy Names senior, said for her, this is the most beneficial way to handle the stress about college. "I usually go to the gym when I get too worried about my applications. I get on that treadmill and I run away."

4 Get organized. It doesn't matter what method you choose, just be sure you have all of your college items in some kind of order. A binder with tabs and pocket dividers is a smart way to keep track of college information, application packets, admission decision letters and financial documents.

5 Relax. Sometimes, we become so consumed with our hectic schedules and deadlines that we forget to enjoy ourselves. Take a break from the stressing. Go to the football game on Friday night, sit down to watch a movie with your family, meditate, go on a smoothie date with your best friend, or have spontaneous jam sessions in your car. "After a long, busy day, what I typically do is immediately go to my car, roll my windows down, and turn the music up," said Academy of the Holy Names senior Hannah Crall. "I listen to anything and everything, from Avicii to Luke Bryan."