By Tiffany, IvyWise College Admissions Counselor
Are you still struggling to decide where you’ll apply to school? Did finding time to research or attend information sessions manage to escape you? Are you staring at a blank screen, just days away from the deadline to submit an essay to your dream school? Or did you just remember your password to your College Board account so you could try the SAT one more time?
Maybe your counselor, parents, mentors, friends, or family have been talking about the college process for months… or perhaps you had to figure out each step on your own. Regardless, you find yourself feeling behind. We hope the following tips help save you from the potential impact of procrastination when it comes to your college search, application, and decision process.
Skip the Visit (for Now)
As the weeks before major deadlines dwindle down, it might be best to employ an “apply now, visit later game plan” when it comes to schools on your list. Instead of blocking off time for travel arrangements, in-person information sessions, and campus tours, you can gather helpful tips from virtual information sessions, publications, and websites.
As an admitted student, you have several opportunities to visit or engage with the college community so that you can make a truly informed decision before May 1. Shifting your focus to researching schools that have offered acceptance could be a time-saving strategy for those running out of time to apply.
Consider Test Optional
Depending on when you’re reading this, you may or may not have time to schedule and prepare for a major standardized test (ACT or SAT). Specific colleges provide a deadline for submitting test scores, if they require them at all. If you plan to take the standardized test, you may find it helpful to take advantage of test prep tutoring to increase your chances of success.
Many schools have extended their test-optional admissions policies or made them permanent. These schools might make your short-list, depending on your current standardized testing situation.
Limit Your Application Work
Several online platforms allow students to apply to multiple colleges simultaneously. These platforms streamline the application process and save time. Here are some popular websites and platforms where students can apply to multiple colleges at once:
- Common Application (Common App): This platform allows students to apply to over 1,000 colleges and universities using a single application. Students can fill out one application and submit it to multiple institutions.
- Coalition for College Application: Similar to the Common App, the Coalition Application allows students to apply to a group of colleges with a single application. Over 150 colleges and universities accept the Coalition Application.
- The Common Black College Application: This platform allows students to apply to multiple historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with a single application. For one fee, students can apply to any number of the 65 HBCUs that accept this application.
- SlideRoom: While not an application platform itself, SlideRoom is used by many colleges and universities to collect supplementary materials, such as portfolios and audition recordings. Students can use SlideRoom to submit materials to multiple schools.
Some states or college systems also use one application for multiple campuses or institutions. Examples include ApplyTexas, which is used by public colleges and universities in Texas, and the UC Application for all universities within the University of California system.
While these platforms can simplify the application process, each college may have additional requirements or supplements. It’s essential to review the application requirements and deadlines for each institution you’re applying to, even if you use a centralized application system.
Craft Your Story
Compile a list of your extracurricular activities, awards, and achievements. Be concise but clear about your roles and contributions. This will not only serve as a reference for your applications but also help you identify key experiences to feature in your essays. Your personal statement is your opportunity to showcase who you are beyond grades and test scores. Reflect on your experiences, values, and aspirations. Create a narrative that encapsulates your unique journey and the impact you hope to make in college and beyond.
Request Help ASAP
Don’t wait until the last minute to request letters of recommendation. Reach out to teachers, mentors, or supervisors who know you well and can speak to your character and abilities. Provide them with all the necessary information, deadlines, and context for your application. Let your counselor know you need support. Even if you’ve procrastinated, they can help you navigate requirements, deadlines, and any specific college policies.
Stay Calm and Positive
Procrastination can be stressful, but maintaining a positive mindset is crucial. Remember that many colleges offer rolling admissions, so submitting a high-quality application, even if slightly delayed, can still be competitive.
While procrastination isn’t ideal, it’s not a death sentence for your college dreams. By following these steps and staying focused, you can compile strong applications and present yourself in the best light possible. Your unique story and potential deserve to be recognized, so embrace this challenge with determination. Some great news could be a matter of weeks away!
IvyWise is here to help you navigate the complex and competitive college admissions process. Wherever you are in your journey, an IvyWise counselor can help you submit the strongest and most compelling college application possible.