While many enjoy the last few days of summer weather, some students (and their parents) are mindful of the school year's swift approach! For college-bound rising seniors who have put off the "nitty gritty" of college admissions, NOW is the time to get organized.
Although the college admissions process can often feel daunting, the following organizational checklist, if put into place before the start of the new school year, will hopefully make your fall less stressful.
1) Standardized Testing Deadlines---- If you wish to re-take the SAT, the deadline for the test offered on October 6th is September 7th. (The late registration deadline is September 21st.) A second SAT is offered on November 3rd with a registration deadline of October 4th. (The late registration is October 19th.)
The ACT is offered again on September 8th and the deadline for late registration is August 31st. The next ACT date after that is October 27th with a deadline of September 21st.
The above deadlines are important to consider immediately if you plan on applying Early Decision I to a particular college/university as it takes a few weeks for the scores to become available.
2) Narrow Down College Selection List---- It's time to make some honest and realistic choices regarding the institutions to which you will be applying. Consider the cost, location, competitiveness (in relation to your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, etc.), programs offered, size of institution, activities, etc. Students typically apply to between 7-10 colleges, although many apply to fewer.
3) Early Decision I, II, and Regular Admissions---- If you have a college in mind for which you qualify and would truly love to attend, I recommend applying Early Decision I if that institution makes it available. Early Decision I informs the college that their institution is your first choice. You must withdraw all other applications, however, upon acceptance. Although the deadlines for Early Decision I range from November 1st through November 15th, you will find out around the winter holidays if you've been accepted.
Many colleges admit a significant percentage of their incoming Freshman class via the Early Decision process. A high desire to attend an institution as evidenced by the decision to apply early can have a positive impact on admissions' officers as they look for commitment and motivation on the part of applicants.
Early Decision II deadlines are typically the same as they are for Regular Admissions to a college/university (around January 1st-early February). ED II applicants, however, are indicating that a college is their top choice and that all other applications will be withdrawn if accepted.
4) Essays, essays, essays!---- Begin crafting an outline for the Essay you will choose from among the six available options on the Common Application. While you don't have to write a masterpiece, it is important to brainstorm, organize your thoughts on paper, write the actual essay, and have enough time for input from a few extra pairs of eyes. If applying EDI, the essay(s) should be completed around October 20th at the latest, to ensure enough time for proper tweaking, proofreading, etc.
5) The Common Application---- Get on line and create an account for access to the Common Application. The website is www.commonapp.org
6) Supplemental Essays/Forms---- Many colleges require an additional, supplemental essay as well as the required essay on the Common Application. Once you have determined the colleges to which you will apply, you should download any Supplemental Essays which are available on the Common Application website. (Go to the Download Forms link at the top of the website's homepage and scroll down to College-specific Supplements to find the desired Supplemental Essays by college.) In addition to Supplemental Essays, the Common Application has Supplemental Forms for those who are involved in Sports and/or the Arts as well as those applying Early Decision.
7) Schedule College Visits and Interviews---- College visits and interviews are highly encouraged, if made available. If you are applying Early Decision I and/or II, they are a must, in my view, as they underscore your commitment to a particular institution. There is still plenty of time to contact colleges and arrange for interviews throughout the fall. Schedule them now though while there are still openings and before things become too hectic during the fall term.
8) Letters of Recommendation---- Reach out to the two Teachers and the Guidance Counselor who will write Letters of Recommendation on your behalf this fall. If you are applying EDI, it is especially important to inform them of that decision within the first two weeks or so of September.
9) A note to rising Sophomores/Juniors----While the college admissions process may seem far away, it's a great idea to get organized now. Juniors should register for the standardized tests they wish to take. While they may choose not to submit their scores to colleges, they will have established a useful "baseline" which can help determine where they stand. Sophomores and juniors can also benefit from researching colleges to which they may want to apply, crafting a selection list, and arranging for campus visits and possible interviews in the spring.