I'm a graduating senior for whom the horrible college application process has just ended. (Well, not completely for me, I'm waitlisted at two Ivy's, and if I get off the waitlist my Dad's making me consider them seriously, though my heart's pretty set on Duke already. ) Let me tell you... your senior year is going to SUCK. I can't remember a time when I've been more stressed. You've gotta work to keep up your GPA, do decent on your AP exams, ask teachers for recs, start writing your essays, maintain your commitment level to your various ECs, meet with your guidance counselor to figure out the rest of your life... yeah. Good thing you got your SATs out of the way. Don't forget to do SAT IIs if you're planning to apply to colleges that ask for them.
You asked if there was anything I would have done differently. There's really just 2 things.
1) I would have applied to more than one "safety" college. I figured I only needed one (VERY stupid, don't do it!), and that one turned out to give me the most trouble - I had to get my school to send them my transcripts three times. If anything had gone wrong and I only had that one safety to rely on, I could've been seriously screwed.
2) I wouldn't have worried so much. I was terribly anxious that I wouldn't get in anywhere. Everywhere I turned there were reports of how this year had the most number of kids applying for college. True, this did affect me in the end (Yale only accepted 5.6% of kids from their Regular Decision round, the lowest ever in history, compared to 9% last year... the sad part is I knew this statistic from memory) but not one bit of worrying could've changed that. All those sleepless nights I could've been enjoying myself with my friends, instead of sitting at home reading about stellar students being turned down from Harvard. Honestly, all you can do is try your very best to represent yourself in your application. Then send it off and try to forget about it. It will be extra hard during the countdown period in March (most schools release their decisions 31 March or 1 April) but if you let the anxiety get to you... you will die.
Wow, I just realized how bitter I sounded.
You'll sound just like that next April, I promise.
So, what colleges are you considering?