Five September College Application Action Steps

Start The School Year Right


In September high school seniors really begin to feel the pressure of the college application season. In fact, those students who hope to apply for Early Decision or Early Action admissions are finding that timeframes are incredibly short. Here are five application action steps high school seniors can take to get on the right admissions track:

  1. Watch Those Deadlines: This is especially important for those trying to gain early admission to a particular institution. Some deadlines are just a few weeks away. Not only should you be aware of the actual deadlines, you should also set a mental deadline of a week earlier for yourself. There is always some kind of last minute hiccup, and you don’t want to destroy your chances because you didn’t get something done on time.
  1. Put a Plan in Place: Those students who are using the regular admissions route do have a little more time on their side, but still need to have a plan of action in place. Locate your schools’ deadlines and develop a schedule to allow yourself to meet all of their requirements. Allow plenty of time for grade transcripts and letters of recommendation.
  2. Outline Your Essays: If you have not already written your application essays, find out what topics are required in the Common Application and also check to see if your schools have any supplemental requirements. Come up with a topic for each of your essays and start outlining your ideas.
  3. Keep Your Parents in the Loop: Applying to college can be an expensive proposition, and most seniors are not footing the bill themselves. Keep your parents in the loop as to anticipated application and testing expenses so they can plan appropriately with the household budget. You don’t want to surprise them by saying you need several hundred dollars next week, or be disappointed when they say they can’t come up with the money that quickly.
  1. Be Aware of Financial Aid: Thinking about how you are going to pay for college should always be part of the application decision-making process. Study the costs of attendance at your selected schools, try to determine the amount of financial aid most students receive, look at the amount of student loan debt these students incur, and figure out whether students graduate and can earn enough money to repay their student loans. You may be surprised at how affordable some schools can be after financial aid is taken into consideration, but you also want to have one safer choice that you know will definitely fit into your family’s budget. Learn about the documents you will need to apply for financial aid so there isn’t a rush at year’s end to gather everything.

    You also need to continue the search for scholarships, and make sure you keep up your grades during the senior year. It is a lot to accomplish, but thousands and thousands of students go through the same process every year and manage to get into good colleges. You can, too, with a little planning and foresight. Just be aware of what the requirements and deadlines are, develop a plan, and work your plan. Set aside some time each week as a kind of personal “college application” afterschool activity.