Filling out college applications and waiting to hear back is one of the most stressful parts of a teen’s life (not to mention their parents’ lives!). While it’s always been a drain, today’s young people face even tougher competition than previous generations. New research shows that it is harder than ever to get into America’s top universities, as more people are going to college than ever before and more international students are coming to the U.S for their higher education.
But take heart. There are many ways you can help your student stand out from the crowd and get into their dream school. Take it from Ja’Leaha Thornton, a Florida teen who just went through the whole process herself and is now offering advice to anyone looking to get accepted. And she should know how, since the 18-year-old was accepted to 72 colleges this past year.
Yes, you read that right: Six dozen colleges were eager to invite Thornton to join their student body.
She posted a photo of herself surrounded by the logos for her possible future alma maters on Facebook — and there are a lot of logos there!
How did she do it? First, she made up her mind to try and get into as many colleges as possible. Instead of making the application process anxiety-inducing, she decided to approach it as a game.
“I know the process of applying could be kind of overwhelming to many, and instead of stressing myself out, I decided to make it a competition … and see how many I can actually get into,” Thorton told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Another one of Thorton’s secrets for a stress-free application process? She used the Common App, which gives you the ability to apply to multiple colleges and request that application fees be waived. (Applying to college isn’t just stressful, it can be exorbitantly expensive.) She also used the Black Common App, which offers students access to apply to many historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as well as interact with school counselors.
“At most, I spent $20,” Thornton said, which is remarkable considering how many schools to which she applied.
With 72 offers on the table, stretching from coast to coast, what school did Thornton choose in the end? In a Facebook post, she revealed that she has chosen Xavier University of Louisiana. The private school in New Orleans is renowned for producing doctors who are Black and Thornton boasted that it’s the only Catholic HBCU in the country.
Her final advice for anyone looking to get into college? Dream big.
“Shoot beyond the sky, because it’s a world out there, and it has so much for us to explore, so don’t limit ourselves,” Thornton said.
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Checkout Simplemost for additional stories.