One of the biggest challenges that college bound seniors will face this year is how to balance a rigorous academic and extracurricular schedule with the demands of college applications. While we always advise students to start their college applications in the summer in order to alleviate some of the workload come fall, many students still have a lot of essays to write and materials to complete before application deadlines. The demands of college applications on top of regular school commitments may seem overwhelming, but it is possible to do it all and do it well.
More students are applying to more colleges than ever before, leaving many with dozens upon dozens of college application essays to complete. While those who apply using the Common Application or Coalition Application can use the main essay for all the schools to which they’re applying, many colleges will still request school-specific essays or short answer responses, which can double or triple the amount of writing that students need to complete. A student applying to balanced list of 10-12 colleges can expect to write anywhere from 20-30 essays or short responses – all of which need to be tailored to the specific college.
So how can students balance the demands of dozens of essays and applications with their commitment to school and extracurricular activities? Here’s what students need to do to strike a healthy balance between senior year and college applications.
There are a number of tools that can help you get organized. Start as simple as buying a planner or get more tech savvy by downloading an organization app like Study Cal or setting up a calendar on your phone and input all school assignments, application deadlines, and any important meetings or college interviews. By taking the time to organize your schedule and write down everything you need to do, you’ll be able to better see what needs to get done and when.
This will also help you formulate an application timeline and break up the work into small, manageable chunks. Aim to get all projects, papers, applications, and other assignments done a few days before they’re due, that way you have some cushion should something come up unexpectedly.
Everything seems important when you’re a high school senior applying to college – and in many cases everything is important. But there’s a hierarchy to everything, and students need to know how to prioritize those commitments and assignments and determine what’s most important on any given day. If you have a project due in a few days, that should take precedence over finishing some essays that aren’t due for another month or two. This is why planning out your application timeline is so important – it allows you to properly prioritize and work efficiently throughout the school year and the admissions process.
Students already have solid deadlines for projects, school assignments, and applications, but students should also set personal deadlines and goals in order to better manage applications and schoolwork. Set dates to have certain application components completed and ready for your college counselor to review well before the official application deadlines. Also set personal deadlines for working on your commitments outside of the classroom, like volunteer work, extracurricular projects, and more.
Students fall victim to it every year – don’t let yourself get caught in the senioritis trap. Not only can it hurt your college admissions chances, it can also keep you from reaching other personal and academic goals. Stay motivated by focusing on your small goals and deadlines and taking a break when you need it. Senior year is busy, but don’t forget to take some time to relax and recharge.
Many students make the big mistake of waiting until the very last minute to start on their college applications. Don’t put it off. Application deadlines may seem far away, but they’ll come up sooner than you think. Start the year off strong by getting a head start on everything you need to complete, rather than put it off until the zero hour.
Seek Help When Needed
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, your parents, teachers, tutors, or your college counselor. If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, seek guidance from someone who can help you better manage the process and guide you in the right direction. At IvyWise we work with students in various stages of the college admissions process, and many students come to us in the thick of senior year when they need help to stay on track.
Don’t let the college admissions process this fall intimidate you! With proper preparation, organization, and the right attitude, students can easily manage the college admissions process alongside their senior year course load.