With college application deadlines and the remainder of the school year ahead, many of us may be dreading and stressing the amount of work and responsibility that comes with applying to colleges. You may be worried about all the applications, tests, or tours that you’ll have to worry about. Here a few tips to help keep you organized and ready for the rest of the school year.
1. Get an Agenda. While it may seem obvious to get an agenda to some or it may seem like a waste to others, getting an agenda will help you organize any upcoming deadlines and remind you of assignments that need to be completed or clubs that need to be attended after school. It doesn’t have to be a notebook that you carry around in your bag, it can be an app on your phone or a calendar on your bedroom wall that you write on.
2. Know When to Take the ACT/SAT.
You may be considering taking the ACT/SAT to send your scores to colleges later in the year. Knowing what dates the ACT/SAT will be taking place will give you an idea as to when to start studying, how much time you will need to set aside for studying, and when you can receive your score to send to colleges.
3. Research Your Colleges. Researching ahead of time what colleges and how many colleges you plan to apply to, their requirements, and when the applications open and close will allow you to save time and be prepared to start applying when you’re ready and able to. Once school starts, you may get busy with your classes, clubs, jobs, and internships and will need to be able to jump into the college application process whenever necessary.
4. Apply to 10 or Less Colleges.
When considering what colleges to apply to, don’t go overboard and apply to more than ten colleges. With each college you apply to, there will be fees to apply, fees to send you scores, fees to send your transcripts, and so on. Applying to too many colleges will not only be expensive but will also be time-consuming. When you research what colleges you want to apply to, as mentioned in the previous tip, make a list of the top ten colleges you want to apply to and actually attend. Choose some local schools, some schools out-of-state depending on your preferences, your dream schools, and some safe schools that you know you could easily get into with your GPA and test scores.
5. Make a List of Teachers You Want Recommendations From.
Once Senior year starts and applications for colleges open, teachers will be flooded with emails from students trying to get recommendations and it may be difficult to get some in time later. The earlier you are able to send emails and get your recommendations, the better. Knowing what teachers would be willing to write recommendations and what teachers you want recommendations from will help you get a head start before the school year starts.
6. Check Your Application Status.
After you apply, make sure you consistently check your application status to see if the college has received certain items like your transcript or your scores. If you see that it has been several weeks and the college has yet to receive certain items, make sure you call them and ask any questions or double-check to confirm that you have sent those items.
7. Focus on What Makes You Unique.
As you research your colleges and prepare for essays you will have to write, try to focus on what makes you unique. Talk about what makes you different, discuss any turning point in your life, or talk about something that you were able to overcome. Putting aside some ideas as to what to write about and what you can focus on in your life will help you be more prepared for the essay questions that the colleges will pose so that you aren’t stuck on what to write about later.
8. Compile All Materials Needed.
Taking some time before applications open and school starts to compile all the things you will need for applications, such as your scores, grades, and transcripts, will save you time later when you are applying and need that information readily. Ensuring that you are able to access your scores and know where to go to send your transcripts will allow you to go through the application more smoothly and turn everything in when you are ready. It will also allow you to go through multiple applications without having to go back and look for the same information repeatedly.
9. Keep All Essays in One Area.
Making a folder or one designated area to keep all your essays will allow you to be more organized and make things more accessible and easier to find when working on your essays. It will allow you to access them whenever necessary without you having to search through your computer or drive for your essays wondering if you saved your essays or what you titled them.
10. Schedule Tours and Show Interest.
After researching what colleges you want to apply to, make sure you keep up with tour dates and schedule tours when you can so that you can get an idea of what the campus looks like and consider if it is a college you may want to attend in the future. Showing interest in what college you think you may want to attend is also important because you will have to gather information on said college about dorms, tuition, programs, etc.
11. Don’t Fixate on One School. Everyone may have a dream school or one school that they are determined to get into. However, don’t just focus on that one school and set all your hopes on it. Make sure you apply to other schools and give other schools a chance too. Go to tours, ask questions, and apply to other schools as well. Even if you are able to get into that one school of your dreams, you may not be able to attend for whatever reason so make sure to keep your options open.
12. Get Rest. Most importantly, get rest. Preparing for college can get hectic with keeping up with deadlines for applications, getting recommendations, going on tours, and also maintaining your grades for school as well. Getting as much rest as possible and taking breathers whenever possible is important for your health. It is also important to remember that regardless of what expectations you have for yourself and what others have for you, your capabilities are not measured by what colleges you are or aren’t able to get into. Everyone has skills in different areas and college is part of your life that can help shape and hone those skills but don’t let these applications and expectations warp your perception of who you are and what you are capable of.