The earliest early action and decision deadlines are coming up within the next two weeks. Some seniors are prepared for this while others still have not gotten the memo about what Common App is. My grievances go out to those who are writhing in the pain of stress, but hope is not lost. Finishing, or starting for some people, college applications may seem like an impossible task given the small window of time, but nothing is possible and thinking so is not helping anyone. The best way to start knocking down things that need to be done is by creating a list of things to do. Here is a list of things a senior must do before sending off college applications.
Create a Common App account:
The great thing about Common App is that if you plan on applying to seven different schools, you don’t have to write out seven different applications. With the Common App the questions that every college needs are all put on one page, and they are all sent off to all the colleges of choice with the click of one button. On this site, the applier can also request recommendations, and write their essays. It is so easy that a baby could do it. With an account on Common App, the rest is pretty self-explanatory, and half the battle is done. One of my recommendations is either sit down with your parent(s), or give them the username and password, so they can fill out some of the questions that you may not know the answer to like questions regarding their employer or income tax. However not all schools are the Common App website. If it is not on the Common App, you can apply on CFNC (if the college is within the state), or chances are that they have their own admissions portal of their website. Call the admissions counselor if you are still lost on where to apply. If you feel like a college resume would better you application, get right to starting/finishing that up as well.
Prioritize your colleges
This is a little more applicable to those who started their applications earlier but is still nevertheless important. It is also especially important if you are the person who is applying to a good number of schools (ten and up). Figure out, highlight, and star the deadlines of each college, and know what they are each expecting. Many colleges require different supplements than others, and it is important to organize what you need from each school. Diligently plan out the order in which you complete each application, so you are not freaking out at the last minute.
Transcripts that would go to schools within the state can be submitted through CFNC for no cost. All you would have to do is go to the sign, choose the colleges you want to send your transcripts to, and then submit for free. Those who are applying to colleges outside the state must request a transcript from the office. There is a form that you must fill, and the first three transcripts are free.
If you haven’t started, then start now! Writing an essay is a process that is not finished with writing words on a paper. It is called a process for a reason. Start with choosing a prompt that you feel would best describe you. The prompts for this year are:
Once you figure out a prompt, just start writing, whether you think it is great or not. Consider it dumping whatever comes to your mind if you would like. Afterwards, clean it up by editing it. Then have two or three friends and a teacher edit it. Keep on editing it until you feel like it is a great final draft. Always remember what MIT’s admission counselor says. If what is stopping you from writing is the fear of not being original, don’t worry about it. It won’t be original. The point of the essay is not to be original, but it is about telling the admissions who you are. Sidenote, most colleges also have short answers they want their prospective students to fill. They are important too.
Do not be the person who asks a teacher write a recommendation letter five hours before it’s due. Give them at least ten to fifteen days advances, so they can go over you brag-sheets. Some may even ask you to come in, and talk to them about you future, so they have more substance to write about in your recommendation. Most schools ask for a counselor’s recommendation, so it is important that you go to them in a timely matter. There are only a handful of them and a colossal number of us. Teachers are also a common recommendation they ask for. Some other great people to ask for recommendations from are employers, college professors (especially if you’re applying to their employment), organization leaders you have worked with, etc. Via Common app, all you have to do is go to the recommendations page under the “my colleges” tab. Make sure you send thank you notes afterwards because that just shows great character.
Last ACT, SAT, and other standardized test
For those who are doing early action, check which SATs and ACTs you can take. Nevertheless, get your ACTs and SATs in line. Go to respective sites, and send off your scores. Both ACT and SAT can be superscored depending on the college you go to so check with the admissions. When in doubt, send all, and they will pick your best score. If you plan on taking of SAT subject tests, also make sure to get those done (if you are doing regular decision that is. Chances are that the colleges with early action deadlines coming up won’t accept your SAT subjects).
People don’t take scholarships seriously enough. A lot of people don’t apply for scholarships assuming they won’t get it or are intimidated by the paperwork. Doing the paperwork however means getting money, so it’s safe to say that it is worth the hassle. Along with University websites, counselors are great people to talk to about scholarships since they often talk to recruiters.
But most of all…
Take a breath. Applying to colleges are stressful as it is. Don’t make it any harder for yourself by procrastinating and worrying even more. People have done this before, and you will be fine. Make it a date if it helps. Go to your favorite coffee shop, and fill out your application and essays as you drink a piping coffee and delicious muffin. Meet up with some alumnis, and maybe go on a college tour. It might help give you that motivation to push through, and finish. Don’t let senioritis get to you.