Steps College-Bound Seniors Must Take in December

It’s Time to Stop Procrastinating and Start Doing

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There are three approaches to applying for college: early, average, and frantic. The early appliers took campus tours over the summer, narrowed down their college choices, took their tests and had all of their applications in by September for early action or early decision. Now they are gathering financial information to complete the FAFSA as soon as it is available in January so they can make their final choice.

The average high school senior might have taken a few tours in the fall and is just now getting the essays and applications completed for the regular admissions deadline.

The frantic high school senior has just woken up from a long nap and suddenly realized that it is time to apply to college! It is still possible to apply and get back on track, but it will take a lot of effort. Here are the steps frantic college-bound seniors must take in December:

  • Do you really want to go to college? Perhaps your procrastination is more a sign of indecision than laziness. College is not for everyone, so don’t go if you are only applying to please your parents or because you think it is what you should do. If college isn’t on your personal horizon, take this time to decide what you really want to do.

  • Get serious about your college choices: The hard reality is that everyone simply cannot go to Harvard or Yale. Get serious about which colleges make sense for you. How good are your grades, what are your chances of getting financial aid or scholarships and, most important, how much can you and your parents really afford?

  • Rally the troops: Although it is usually best to take the lead in your own college search, now might just be the time to ask for help. It can be embarrassing to admit to your parents that you’re not sure of what to do, but ask them to help you organize yourself and develop a schedule that will get everything done on time. Get requests out for letters of recommendation and your transcripts, find someone who can outline the admission requirements for each college, ask your English teachers to review your college essays, and get your kid sister or brother started on the search for scholarships. It will help you out and give them a head start on their own scholarship hunt.

  • Get those applications done: It is true that some admissions deadlines might not be until January or February, but you do yourself no favors by waiting that long. Get it done now and cross one more thing off your to-do list. Write the essays, forward the test scores, and just make sure you have everything submitted now. This will leave you a little time to spare if the admissions office requests more information.

  • Make a pledge to not procrastinate on the FAFSA: While waiting until the last minute to complete your applications still leaves you a good shot at being accepted, delaying your FAFSA could cost you money. Some forms of financial aid are limited, and only go out to those who apply first. Do whatever you have to do to make sure that you and your parents are on the FAFSA as early in January as possible.

It would be wise of you to take the advice of Yoda from the Star Wars franchise - “There is no try, only do.” Don’t say you will try to get everything done; just get it done. Good luck!