So now that you finally narrowed down your list of colleges to some schools you actually care about, what do you do? Time to write those essays! Wait, maybe you should start with the CommonApp. Hold your horses, teacher recommendations are needed as well. Oh dear, so much to do, so little time! Why does applying to college require so many components? More importantly, how will you ever get this all done in a just a few months? Have no fear, with some planning, you will have plenty of time to do everything AND catch up on that latest TV show that you love.
1. Set a personal deadline (that is before the actual deadline) and stick to it.
If you do not get anything from this article other than this tip, then you will probably be good to go (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read the rest of the article, because you totally should). I would recommend that you set the personal deadline a month or so before the actual deadline. By setting some sort of deadline, you are eliminating any potential for submitting a late application. This also means that you will not be rushing at 11:58 pm on the day that the application is due to finish that last paragraph of that supplement to your dream school.
Moreover, this allows for more time for you to review and revise your essays, which would ultimately result in better-quality essays. You will probably also be able to have someone read over them without being pressed for time. If by some chance you miss your personal deadline, you always know you have more time to work on the essays if you have to (but hopefully you will never have to resort to this). After your personal deadline, do not look at any of your essays until a week or so before the actual deadline. The break gives you the opportunity to look at the essays with fresh eyes and provides a new assessment of your work. Besides, it is absolutely the best feeling to be able to say, “Yeah, I finished all of my applications already” in November.
2. Set up a schedule.
First thing’s first, get yourself a planner/calendar/organizer, and write in all the due dates of all the colleges to which you plan to submit applications (pretty obvious course of action). With this, you can have all of your deadlines in one place and you will not have to be searching the college’s website or CommonApp for those deadlines. Following that, schedule parts of your day to work specifically on your essays – do NOT try to just write all of your essays in one sitting.
Also, set up times where you can meet with your guidance counselor to talk about your college decisions. It is also a good idea to have days to catch up with the teachers who are writing your recommendations (more information on teacher recommendations here). You can keep this all organized with a handy-dandy schedule.
Without a doubt, I recommend having the CommonApp finished (or at least very close to being completed) before starting anything else. It is the most basic component of the college application process (unless the school you are applying to does not take CommonApp). Without the CommonApp done, you cannot submit your supplements and your teachers and counselors have no way of uploading their recommendations. Next, I suggest that you have your teacher recommendation situations sorted out. Make sure your teachers know which schools they need to send their letters to because they honestly deserve a lot of respect and appreciation for writing your recommendation lette. What better way to show that then to make sure you have everything in place to make their jobs easier? Finally, order your supplement essays in order of importance or difficulty. Take on the more abstract supplements on first since they will probably take more time.
College application time can be stressful and overwhelming, but if you use your time wisely, you will survive!