Time to Get Going on Applications

The school year is well under way, and high school seniors who are applying to college have a busy few months coming up. Keeping track of requirements and deadlines is crucial to having a smooth college application process.

If you haven’t finalized your list of colleges yet, it’s time to get serious about researching potential schools. Admissions officers from many colleges will be visiting high schools in the next few months, and these are valuable opportunities to ask questions about colleges you’re considering.

A number of Southern California schools, including USC, Pitzer College and Chapman University, have open house days for prospective students in October and November. These programs often include meetings with students and faculty, as well as tours and presentations about campus life.

If you want an interview with an admissions officer, it’s a good idea to book it in the next few weeks since interview slots will fill up at schools like USC. Some highly selective colleges offer alumni interviews, and those are often scheduled after an application has been submitted to the admissions office.

Once you know where you’ll be applying, make a chart with the application requirements for each school. To make sure you stay on track, get a calendar and note every deadline date. You might include a reminder to yourself one week before each deadline.

If you are applying to colleges that require teacher recommendations, be considerate and give your teacher at least four weeks notice. Some teachers are asked to write recommendations for 20 or more students, and this is a time-consuming task that they do on their own time.

Ideally, you start working on essays at least a month before the application deadline. That gives you time to do several drafts. When you’re rushing to finish three applications in two days, it’s impossible to do a really thorough job on any of them. You want to tailor your application to each school, and that takes time.

What you don’t want to do is procrastinate until a week before an application deadline. In addition to being terribly stressful, last minute applications look thrown together and communicate to the college that you don’t care enough to put in the effort. Not a message you want to send.

When you think about all the things you have to do, especially if you’re applying to more than three or four colleges, it can feel overwhelming. But if you make a schedule, and spread out the workload with a few tasks each week, it will be manageable. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so pace yourself for the best results.

Success Stories

  • Aaron F., Columbia, MD
    "Thank you so much, Audrey, for your help with my essays. I was amazed at how much time and thought you put in – your input greatly improved my essays. I also want to thank you for the way in which you helped me. You were able to give criticism in a way that was easy to digest, making the already stressful process a little smoother. I know that I …
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