Get started early on college applications

College Admissions


It’s almost time to go back to school, and if you’re a high school senior, you have a busy year ahead of you. On top of classes, activities, and jobs, you have college applications due this fall. You can help yourself manage your time and get everything done by setting a schedule.

Rather than leave your college applications until the last minute, start early and spread out the work over the fall. You’ll do better work that way because you’ll have time for revisions, and you’ll save yourself the stress of rushing to get everything done by the deadlines. Use PowerScore’s Senior Year Timeline for Admissions as a starting point, and adapt it to fit your own situation.

Make a List of Everything You Need to Do

Your list will include making a final decision on which schools to apply to, filling out the application forms, gathering letters of recommendation, and writing essays. It might also include retaking the SAT or getting clearance to play NCAA Division I or Division II sports.

Give Yourself a Deadline

Keep these points in mind:

  • Are you applying for early admission or scholarships? If so, check the application deadlines, and adjust your schedule so you can comfortably meet those deadlines.
  • What else do you have to do this fall? Try to figure out when your busy times will be. These might be the days before major tests, the weekend before a big project is due, or the weeks of playoffs for fall sports. Don’t plan to get a lot of work done on your college applications during these times. Instead, look for days or weeks when you’ll be able to devote more time and focus to your applications, and set your personal deadlines accordingly.
  • Give yourself some wiggle room. Do your best to stick to your schedule, but remember that sometimes plans go awry. Your recommenders might take longer than you expect to write your letters. You could have a difficult test or a big project that you didn’t anticipate. You might catch a cold and not feel well enough to work on your applications. Any of these setbacks could have serious consequences if you’re finishing your applications at the last minute. But if you give yourself more time than you expect to need for each item on your to-do list, missing one of your own deadlines won’t cause you to miss colleges’ deadlines. Notice that the PowerScore timeline recommends that you plan to finish your applications by Thanksgiving. That’s a great goal. If you make it, you’ll have less stress over the holidays; if you miss it, you’ll still have time to catch up.

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