How to Make Sure You’re Prepared for the College Application Process
College applications are a daunting task. You have to choose where to apply, keep track of deadlines, fill out the Common App, and write countless essays. Here are some tips to make sure you’re prepared for the process.
- Take your standardized tests early.
I strongly recommend taking your standardized tests at the beginning of your junior year. This gives you a baseline score with plenty of time to prepare. It enables you pinpoint your weaknesses and gives you sufficient time to correct them. It also permits you to take the tests when you aren’t stressed; this can be far more beneficial than you would expect.
- Keep an ongoing resume throughout high school.
When it comes time to fill out the dreaded Common App, you will have to enter in all of your activities and awards from the past four years. This can be quite challenging if you haven’t been on top of things. Keeping a resume was a lifesaver for me.
- Make the decision about where you are going to apply before the start of senior year.
If October rolls around and you’re still going on college visits (this was me), you will be under a lot of unnecessary stress. Avoid this mistake by planning your college visits during your sophomore and junior year.
- Make sure your list includes more than just reach and safety schools.
Do not make the mistake of only applying to your dream schools and a couple of safety schools. Apply to a few “likely” schools as well. If you do this, you’re more likely to end up somewhere good for you.
- Start the essays early.
The CommonApp doesn’t officially open until August 1st, but the essay prompts are usually released by April. Start drafting your essays in early June. This will give you a chance to take a break and look at your original words with fresh eyes. Show your essay to multiple people before you submit; an outsider’s perspective always improves the quality of your writing.
Finally, remember to not stress. You’ve done the hard part already. Good luck!