The last thing most high school students want to hear is tips on how to set guidelines and prepare their for their college applications. Things like prom, tests and extra curricular activities are all in full effect.
However, one of the most important (and often overlooked) aspects of applying to college lies within the details of due dates, supplemental essays, letters of recommendation and getting all necessary financial information in on time.
All schools are different, and therefore they all have their own due dates and requirements for important information, which makes it increasingly more important to plan ahead.
1. It’s never too early to start:
While I wouldn’t recommend obsessing over applying to college all the time for anyone, it is important to be conscious of your future plans and act accordingly. If you’re a freshman, maybe you should take some extra time each week in studying vocabulary words, reading and reviewing math problems. While some may think of it as a waste of time or boring, it will pay off in spades when the SAT/ACT roles around and everyone else is in crunch mode.
Still a sophomore? Again, no problem. In addition to reviewing English and math fundamentals, reading and doing some test prep, you should at least start thinking of where you’d like to go to college and what you’d like to study. There’s still a lot of time, so don’t stress if you do not know, but be mindful that time does come and go much quicker than you think.
As a Junior , it’s much closed to crunch time, but if you prepared accordingly, you’ll have most of the work already done and you’ll be on a steady pace. You’ll have a much better idea of where you’re academically and personally fit to attend and you will have a clear path on how to achieve that milestone.
For Seniors, you’re just finishing up test retakes, last minute applications boosters and so forth. Your main focus will be on filtering through colleges and actually putting all the pieces together. Most of the high-level questions should be answered by now and it’s just a matter of getting everything in on time.
2: Track everything:
It’s easy to add something to a to-do list or make a mental note, but it’s much more difficult to actually stay on top of things and execute.
Everyone is different, but you should look into setting up guidelines for how and when you’ll finish pieces of your application process.
Maybe it’s studying for the SAT/ACT every Sunday morning, or writing a few paragraphs a week for your essay. Regardless of how you choose to format your application process, it’s important to stay consistent.
3. Know what each school requires:
This one may seem obvious, but it’s actually the one piece that students tend to struggle with the most. As noted above, each college is different, has different deadlines and requires different things. While the common app certainly helps streamline the application process when applying to several different schools, it does not cover everything for every school.
With this in mind, it’s extremely important to look ahead and note what each school requires and how many such as supplemental essays, letters of recommendation, etc. Some may even require a specific format, so be sure to follow all details.
Staying on top of things can be tough, especially with everything else you have going on. But, you can make things easier on yourself by planning ahead and keeping track of what each school you’re interested in requires. College application deadlines, school, extra curricular activities and so forth can be tough to balance, so finding some outside help, such as ApplyKit and a support structure will help immensely.