Applying to college is a marathon

My 18 Mile Course – Thank goodness for great weather and being close to the ocean!

I will be running the Los Angeles Marathon this year in March. Today I passed my second longest run of training…18 miles. I must be insane, right? But after I finished and crossed off the number on my training chart in excitement, I realized something. Marathon training and applying to college have SO many similarities in terms of preparing yourself, setting goals, taking breaks and being mindful of your body.

Stay with me here…A typical marathon-training program can range from anywhere between 16-18 weeks of preparation. There are even programs that start earlier if you have NO running under your belt. I’m talking a mile to start with an easy 3 miles as your first big run. 16-18 weeks of gradually building up to an end-goal. 16-18 weeks of discipline mixed with moments of weakness. 16-18 weeks of hiccups, set-backs, victories and moments where you flat out surprise yourself.

As I meet with my Juniors and we discuss game-plans and goals for the upcoming Senior year, I can’t help but compare this to the start of a training plan. One that starts out with writing out a program/training schedule and marking clear milestones to help you along the way. It’s much more simple than we think. Take a look at some advice:

  • Create a training plan. In college world that looks like a map of your tasks to complete. Get out a calendar and mark your milestones. Some examples below:
    • Take SAT in March, re-assess after and re-take in June or September
    • February – June, explore colleges via websites, guidebooks and visit colleges in March over Spring break
    • By July have college list set
  • Set goals. The more specific goals are the better. Write them down and post them somewhere you can see daily.
    • I will do well on the SAT/ACT (or achieve X score)
      • How? I will study test prep twice a week for 45 minutes at a time and take three practice SAT/ACT exams by the March exam
    • I will earn all As in my classes
      • How? Take advantage of peer-tutoring, keep a clear calendar of assignments that are due, meet with teacher in office hours if I don’t understand
    • I will get an internship this summer
      • How? I will look throughout my community, talk to my parents and their colleagues, I will create a resume, I will search online and check in with the career center
  • I will REST
    • If you run everyday you are setting yourself up for injury. If you don’t stretch, take breaks and manage your short/long runs you risk doing more damage than good.
    • More is not always better! 
    • Schedule clear breaks just like you schedule homework, extracurricular activities, etc.
      • Example: Wednesday from 6:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. I will go to Yoga, draw, write, listen to music, watch Netflix, (insert your favorite activity here)
    • Be mindful (take time to stop, close your eyes and breathe…even for one minute before you head into class)

Remember…just like in training, things will not go as planned. You might miss a deadline, or not complete all of your homework…but the key is to NOT give up and to continue the course. We are human! It’s okay to mess up a little, but it’s not okay to dive back to the couch and give up on your plan completely. Re-read your goals, remind yourself of the end-game and give yourself encouragement.

Happy training!

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

2 thoughts on “Applying to college is a marathon

  1. Love love love this article! Great content!

    On Sun, Feb 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM college counselor rowley wrote:

    > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > collegecounselorrowley posted: ” > > For those of you who know me, or for those of you who Mr. Jackson has told > ;), I will be running the Los Angeles Marathon this year in March. Today I > passed my second longest run of training…18 miles. I must be insane, > right? But after I finished and ” > > > > > > > > > >


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