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Organizing the College Application Process

Jul 2, 2018 | College Applications

Applying to colleges can be a really stressful time for high school seniors and with all the pressure on kids today, the anxiety about college decisions can start even sooner. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Most of the stress and anxiety of the college application process can be handled with a little organization and a lot of letting go of control and allowing the student to take the reins as much as possible, while still getting it all done.  The earlier you start in high school, the better; but, even if you aren’t starting the process until your senior year, there’s still a lot you can do to decrease your stress.

  1. Research colleges with your interests and demographics in mind.  https://joleonard.com/which-colleges-should-i-apply-to/
  2. Consider financial aspects to further refine your college choices.  https://joleonard.com/5174-2/
  3. List your activities and awards during high school, with emphasis on leadership and volunteer work. If you start this early in high school, you’ll write things down as you do them, and you’ll be able to plan your activities to make your application as impressive as possible. We suggest creating Notes or an ongoing Google Doc to track what you’ve been up to.
  4. Create a filing system with a file for each college, financial papers, scholarships, and test scores.
  5. Reach out to the college admissions office to express your interest and ask an intelligent question that you would not be able to easily find on their website. They will take note of you! (YOU ask, not your mom or dad.)

Now you’re ready to start applying to your favorite colleges!

  1. Research the deadlines and the requirements for each college. This is easy on the Common Application (Common App) website, where all that information is listed. But not every school uses the Common App, so you will need to research those schools separately.
  2. Add deadlines to your calendar. Decide if you want to apply early decision or early action, and make sure you know what each school means by those terms. Schools have different definitions.
  3. Consider if your schools recommend interviews and work those into your calendar as well.
  4. Start thinking about your essays and supplemental questions early – brainstorm, then decide on your favorite ideas.
  5. Create mini-deadlines for yourself for writing drafts of your essays and pulling together any supplemental materials, art samples, or whatever. Stick to your mini-deadlines and you’ll avoid the rush and stress. Put them on your calendar as well.
  6. Have a trusted adult (parent, advisor) review your writing and your work well in advance of the deadline for submission.
  7. When you’re happy with your application and you’ve had it reviewed by an adult who is good at writing and understands the college process, then submit!
  8. Reward yourself for your hard work!

Still a little confused? We help kids and their parents evaluate all their options and make the right choices. Getting a professional who knows the ropes to help you through these steps may be just what you need to sleep easy. Everyone on our team has a combination of passion for working with young adults, and personal and professional experience that gives them a broad perspective. We all embrace the values of Independence, Discipline, Professionalism and Pragmatism, and use these values as we mentor, train and coach our clients through their education and career transitions.