Although college application deadlines aren’t usually until January, it’s never too early to get a head start, even if that just means doing some research and making a checklist of the things that need to be done. Filling out your applications can be a little intimidating, so we’ve put together a list of tips to make your journey to becoming a college student as smooth as possible.
1. Pay Attention To Deadlines
As mentioned above, most college applications have a deadline that falls somewhere between January 1 and February 15. Be sure that you know the exact dates, and mark them down in a planner or in a calendar. Set reminders leading up to each deadline, because stress can cause you to procrastinate, and before you know it, your deadline will be there. If you are planning to apply for early admission, these earlier deadlines should also be taken into account.
And don’t just set reminders for application deadlines. Be aware of scholarship and financial aid deadlines, counseling deadlines, and any other important dates along the way.
2. Your Counselor is a Valuable Tool
Many high school students feel that the college application process is something that can be done mostly on their own, but counselors and advisors are there for a reason. They can answer any and all college-related questions, like “Why do colleges do background checks on students?”, or “What happens if I decide to change my major?” Their job is to make the transition from being a high school senior to a college student as easy as possible. They can also help you with things like financial aid, proofreading your admissions essays, writing references, and giving insight to career paths that might suit you. They want to help you, so if you need help, ask for it.
3. Research Programs and Degrees to Suit You
It can seem like a daunting task, choosing a path for your entire future when you’re only seventeen. Sites like CollegeCliffs have put together valuable resources for everything college-related imaginable. They offer insight on college degrees, explain the admissions process step-by-step, and have information about many college campuses all over the United States.
Their ranking system helps prospective students ensure that they are making the right decisions when it comes to choosing a college or university. This kind of research is immensely helpful if you tend to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options you have.
4. Choose Your Recommendations Well
Many high school seniors tend to stick to people who know them well in the classroom while forgetting that colleges are also interested in who they are when they’re not at school. While you can choose a teacher or faculty member who you know well if there is someone in your community who would be able to write a shining recommendation for you, don’t be afraid to ask them to write a letter as well. Make sure you give those writing your recommendation enough time to write something thoughtful and honest and be sure to thank them when they are done.
5. Be Thorough and Organized
Provide all of the requested information on every single form. Even if you’ve filled out the same information on three different forms for the same college. Leaving blank spaces gives the idea that you were being careless with your application, instead of carefully taking your time. Double-check that you have provided everything asked of you, so the admissions officers know that you are taking the application—and your future—seriously.
While you are filling out your applications and writing your essay, be sure to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Technical mistakes can discredit you, so be sure to have your advisor or someone you trust read it over to ensure that it is perfect before sending it out into the world.
Applying for college doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It’s all part of the process of planning your future and transitioning from high school life to college life. As long as you are careful, punctual, and take advantage of every resource you feel necessary, you’ll be able to submit those applications and then sit back and relax and graduate!