Start Your College Applications This Summer

Get a Head Start on Getting Into College


I know - your junior year of high school is just coming to an end, or is already over - so who really wants to think about college now? Doesn’t it feel like you should have at least a little time for yourself before the college crush begins in September? While it’s true that there are, even now, perfectly good colleges which are still accepting applications for this fall, it really isn’t the best strategy to wait until the last minute.

A lot can be riding on your choice of college, so you want to put the best possible effort into it. That’s really not possible if you are under tight deadlines. The old saying of “haste makes waste” could end up costing you the school of your choice or money in college financial aid. Here are just a few of the other reasons why you should start thinking about getting a head start on those college applications this summer:

  • Watch Those Deadlines: If you are thinking of submitting an early decision or early action application, you had better be very clear about those deadlines. Some come as early as October 15, and that really doesn’t leave you a lot of time to get everything done. Even if you are waiting for the regular admission deadline, it may be hard to pay attention to the application process while you are studying or participating in extracurricular activities. Set some time aside each week over the summer to work on essays and applications.
  • There May be More Than the Common App: While the Common Application is accepted at hundreds of colleges, you might need to do more depending on your college choices. Some schools require a supplement, some have their own application form, and others require a video or portfolio. You want to make sure you leave yourself enough time to perfect and polish each of these to offer the best representation of yourself and your high school career.
  • It Could Affect Your Financial Aid: Some colleges use the CSS PROFILE instead of the FAFSA to determine their financial aid awards. The FAFSA isn’t even offered until January 1, but colleges which require the CSS PROFILE have much earlier deadlines. Some forms of financial aid are only available on a first-come, first-served basis. You want to leave plenty of time to collect documentation and pay attention to your financial aid application, no matter which form is required.
  • You’ll Have More Time for Scholarships: Once you know that you have the college application process under control, you can go back to searching for scholarships. These could make a big difference in the amount of money you will eventually have to pay out of your pocket.
  • Always Leave Yourself Some Extra Time: It is never a good idea to submit things at the last minute. If there is a mistake, you might not have the ability to correct it, which could affect your chances of being accepted. Some of these mistakes can lead to your not receiving the maximum amount of financial aid to which you are entitled, which could lead to further money problems down the road.

You also want to make sure you have enough time to make yourself stand out.

If you are pressed for time, you might be tempted to use the same essay, but starting now allows you time to personalize each effort to the particular college. Yes, have some fun this summer, but also plan to get a little work done!