How to Make Sure You're Prepared for the College Application Process

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 Application and write countless essays. Here are some tips to make sure you’re prepared for the college application 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 to pinpoint your weaknesses and gives you sufficient time to correct them. Taking these tests at the beginning of the year has its advantages; you won’t be nearly as stressed. This can be far more beneficial than you would expect.

Keep an ongoing resume throughout high school

When it comes time to filling 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, or using a tool like Student Activity Tracker, helps you compile all of your activities throughout the years.

Decide which colleges or universities you plan on applying to before the start of senior year

If October rolls around and you’re still going on college visits, 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 land somewhere good for you.

Start the essays early

The Common Application doesn’t officially open until August 1, but the essay prompts are usually released in 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 before the August deadline. Have your essay reviewed by multiple people before you submit; an outsider’s perspective always improves the quality of your writing.

Don’t stress

Finally, remember not to stress. You’ve done the hard part already. Good luck!