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Get a Head Start On Your College Applications

If you are entering your senior year of high school, all you really want to think about is relaxing. It is nice to take a break over the summer, but you also need to start thinking ahead about the college application process. You should have your list narrowed down to a few good prospects, and need to plan some campus visits this summer if you have not already done so. The next step, then, is to think about your applications.

Depending on whether you apply for early admission or early decision, your application deadlines could be much earlier than you anticipate. Although some colleges are scaling back on the essay requirement, an important part of the application process for most colleges is still the essay. This is your chance to present yourself and your unique personality, in order to stand out from the other applicants, so it is not something that should be put off until the last minute. Take your time and think through the process now, so that you can concentrate on the applications themselves, the financial aid process, and scholarships once the school year starts up again.

Find out whether the colleges you are interested in attending utilize the Common App and familiarize yourself with its essay prompts. Also be sure to determine if your college has any supplemental requirements that are not included in the Common App.

If the colleges do not use the Common App, look at their applications to find out what their essay topics are. Pick the topics you think you can write about most effectively, and then start outlining your ideas. Here are a few tips to help you write essays that can really stand out to the admission committee:

  • Do some research first: There are many college essay writing resources that are available online. Take some time to review this information, and learn about how to approach the essay writing process.
  • Get some resources: Familiarize yourself with the use of a dictionary and thesaurus. You want to show a high level of writing skill, which will require proper spelling and usage.
  • Be careful with the personal statement: This is really the part of the application where you get to tell a little bit more about yourself and your experiences. It is not the place to boast of your accomplishments; they have other places in the application. Talk about who you are as a person, who you hope to become, and how you think this particular school can help you achieve that goal.
  • Watch for repetition: You want to cover as much as possible about yourself throughout the application, not just repeat the same things over and over again. Look at the places you have available to write about yourself, think about what you want to say, and then spread it out over the various essay and writing opportunities. Once you have a passable version of each essay prepared, print them all out and compare them with each other to see if you have repeated any thoughts.
  • Get outside input: Few people like to hear criticism, but it is better to get input from others now before you submit your application. If you don’t want to have your parents review your work, ask a trusted relative or teacher to read it and give you an honest opinion.


The entire college application process is all about the planning. Start working on your college essays now, and you can focus on other aspects once your senior year begins.