Seniors: if you’re still working on your college applications, you’re not alone. The application season is still going strong for colleges with deadlines past the standard Jan. 1 cutoff, and with the tumultuous year many colleges have already extended application deadlines and we expect even more to keep their Early Decision II and Regular Decision pools open well into February.
If you’re still scrambling to figure out your college plans – don’t panic. There’s still time to apply to a number of best-fit schools and put together college applications that highlight what you’ll bring to campus. Here are some tips for students who got a late start on their college apps and want to plan to apply to Feb. 1 or 15 deadlines.
Do Your Research
You need to know exactly when every application is due and the requirements associated with each submission. While this advice is always important, it’s particularly crucial for the class of 2025 to do their research and stay updated. There have already been several major college admissions changes this year, including test-optional policies at some schools and extended deadlines. Make sure that the colleges on your list haven’t decided to extend their application deadlines. If they have, don’t forget to factor these new timelines into your application plan and take advantage of any extra time you have to fine-tune your submissions.
Create a Plan of Action
The secret to working efficiently is coming up with a master plan that will keep you on track. Review all of your upcoming deadlines and the application requirements for each school on your best-fit list. Write all of this information out so that it’s easy to refer back to. Once you have these notes in one place, create a schedule for when you’ll tackle each application component. Prioritize the most imminent deadlines first to make sure you are using your time effectively. If possible, meet with your college counselor to review your application strategy and troubleshoot your proposed plan.
Tackle Major To-Do List Items First
What should you do if you have several application components due on the same day? It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s best to start with the task that you consider most challenging. Whether it’s an essay or an especially long supplement, conquer this application component when you’re feeling fresh and in your peak focus zone. Once you’ve checked this major item off of your to-do list, you’ll gain confidence and feel inspired to keep making progress on your application agenda. So don’t be afraid to tackle that personal statement or challenging supplemental essay question first, because it’ll help you build momentum.
Once you have your plan of action for college applications, stick to it! How can you hold yourself accountable? Start by checking in with yourself every few days to review your progress and reflect on any challenges that may have come up. It can also be helpful to schedule time to work on your applications, just as you would arrange a doctor’s appointment or meetup with a friend. Add your application-related tasks to your Google calendar or set alarms on your phone to remind yourself to get to work. While it might sound silly, having a daily reminder that flashes across your cell phone can be the extra motivation you need to stay on track during your busiest days.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Applying to college can be stressful, particularly during a time with so many changes happening daily. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start when it comes to college applications, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s a parent, teacher, or friend, voice your challenges to someone you trust. Discuss how you’re feeling, what your goals are, and some steps you’d like to take to meet these objectives. Simply talking it out can help relieve some of the stress around college admissions and serve as a reminder that you’re not going through any of this alone. While students need to write and submit their own college applications, everyone can benefit from a support network in all circumstances, and the college admissions process is no exception. If you find that you need some additional college admissions guidance, an independent college counselor can help you put those finishing touches on your applications, refine your college list, and keep you on track to complete all your apps on time.
When working on applications with deadlines after Jan. 1, it’s important to stay positive and trust that with the right application strategy you will be able to check every item off of your to-do list before your deadlines. Here at IvyWise, our college admissions counselors are experts at helping students manage their time and create impactful application strategies. For more information on how to create a plan of action for college applications, contact us today.