Setting Out the College Application Timetable

Setting Out the College Application TimetableAs a high school junior are you looking at some seniors who are still scrambling to apply to college for the upcoming fall semester? Although it is certainly possible to apply this late in the year, it has a lot of drawbacks. You might not get accepted into a preferred college, haste can cause a lot of mistakes and repeated effort, and there could be great friction with the parents. A better approach is to plan out your college application timetable carefully so you don’t feel stress, can make sure everything is submitted on time, and give yourself the best chance of being accepted.

It might seem like the fall is still a long way off, but there is a lot to do in what could rapidly become a very short period of time. You’ve got to take any needed tests, submit college applications, apply for financial aid and search for college scholarships – and all while still paying attention to your junior year academics and activities. Some things need to be addressed before others, so it is best to have an understanding of what your priorities need to be for the next six to nine months. Here are some tips you can use to help set out a reasonable college application timetable that won’t drive you crazy:

• First Things First: You really have to decide which colleges you want to apply to, since all deadlines are really dependent on their specific requirements. If you haven’t developed a Top 10 list, do it now. If you haven’t visited some of your top contenders, ask your parents if something can be arranged or find out if any of your classmates are planning trips that you can join. Your list should include colleges where you are most likely to be accepted, at least one “reach” school that is a dream but you’re not sure your parents can afford, and one “safety” school where you can at least attend classes if all else fails while you work on Plan B.

• Figure Out What Needs to be Done: There are usually two basic components to applying to college – the college application and the financial aid application. But there can be a lot more that goes into the actual process. Each college or major might have different requirements, or you may need to submit a video or portfolio of your work. If you are looking for additional financial support, you’ll need to locate scholarship opportunities and find out what their deadlines are as well. You might need to develop a big schedule you put on the wall, an Excel spreadsheet, or your own system for listing out what needs to be done.

• Know Your Deadlines: Although you can absolutely apply for and get accepted into college well into your senior year, you want to give yourself every best opportunity. The Common App used by many colleges comes online August 1. Early decision and early action deadlines might run anywhere from October 15 through November 15. Most regular application decisions fall somewhere in January, but this is not a definitive rule. You must look at each college’s deadlines individually. The FAFSA and CSS Profile come online October 1, but you should also check the financial aid deadline for colleges and your state to qualify for the maximum amount of financial support. Scholarships usually have deadlines in December, but some work with earlier or later timeframes.

• Get Moving: Start completing tasks now. If schools require SAT or ACT scores, get yourself scheduled to take one or both of those tests. Start thinking about your letters of recommendation so you can ask teachers, coaches and advisers for their input before the school year is complete. Get an idea of essay topics and start outlining your thoughts so you won’t be writing at the last minute. Keep track of 2017 income and tax information so it will be easy to find when it comes time to apply for financial aid.

Set your own deadlines about a week before the official deadlines, and you should be able to create a very realistic college application timetable.