6 Tips for Finishing College Applications Over Winter Break

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

finish college apps over winter break.jpgRegular Decision Deadlines Are Almost Here!


The clock is ticking and college bound students only have a little less than two weeks before regular decision applications are due. Many students will spend their winter break finishing their college applications, and we have some tips to help make that task a little easier.

Working on college applications over winter break is never fun, but for many it’s necessary in order to get everything completed before the Jan. 1 or 2 deadline. If you plan to finish college applications over winter break, here are some tips to help you cross the college app finish line.

Make a List of Everything You Need to Get Done

The first step to completing your college applications is to first evaluate what you haven’t done yet. Start with creating a list of everything you need to do for each application. Do you need to finish your Common Application essay? Have you finished some supplements but not others? Have you requested your SAT or ACT test scores be sent to the applicable colleges? Write down everything you need to do, and then prioritize. If you haven’t sent your test scores, work on that first, as many offices will likely be closed over the holiday.

Create a Schedule

Once you have created a list of everything you need to and prioritized the most important tasks, create a schedule to ensure you’re able to get everything done on time. This schedule can be as simple as “Dec. 21 – finish Yale supplements” or as detailed as “Dec. 21, 2-3 p.m. work on personal statement; 3-4 p.m. work on USC short answer questions on supplement.” A schedule will help you keep yourself accountable for what you need to get done and when.

Limit the Number of Drafts For Each Essay

One of the ways that students waste the most time when trying to complete their applications over winter break is trying to “perfect” their college application essays. Some students can get stuck on one essay for days at time, putting them behind schedule and increasing stress and anxiety about looming deadlines. Before you get started, set a limit on the number of drafts for each essay. It can be as few as two or as many as seven – just set a limit so you don’t spend all your time rewriting one essay that was actually perfect around the second or third draft.

Take a Break

It is winter “break,” after all. Don’t let college applications consume all your time. If you’re celebrating the holidays with family, take some time to put your college applications aside and join in the festivities. Spend time with your family and relax. Taking a break will actually help you to recharge and come back to your applications with a fresh mind and maybe a new perspective.

Set Aside 20 Minutes to Thoroughly Review Each Application

Another big mistake students can make when rushing to complete applications over winter break is not thoroughly reviewing the application in its entirety before submitting. Whether you’re applying with the Common App, the Coalition app, or the school’s own application, once you’re done set aside a good 20-30 minutes to preview the application in its entirety to make sure all information is completed and correct, all your essays are completed and that you’ve included the correct version, and that there are no errors in your activity list, self-reported scores, etc. Students can often rush through the process of reviewing their applications, only to look back later and find mistakes – which can cause a lot of anxiety. Prevent that by scheduling in time to review all your applications before submission to ensure you’re submitting the best application possible and to give you some peace of mind.

Ask For Help If You Need It

For some students, the process of completing all their college applications before the regular deadlines can be overwhelming. Maybe they started late or fell behind on their essays. Or maybe a life event prompted a reevaluation of their college list. Whatever the reason, it’s not uncommon for students to feel like there’s too much to do and not enough time. If you’re struggling with completing your college applications before the deadlines, ask for help! School may be out, but some school-based college counselors may make themselves available over the break. Independent counselors, like those at IvyWise, are also available over the break, and can help students with whatever they need, whether it’s help finishing applications, reviewing a supplement or two, or helping a student decide what to do after an early admission rejection. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.

Winter break and the holidays are meant to be a relaxing time of year for students, but for those applying to college they can feel a lot of pressure to work through the break to get all their applications completed. If you need help with your remaining college applications, be sure to contact us today for more information on our last-minute services for high school seniors.

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