It's September and deadlines will be here before you know it. This month we break down College Board's College Application Timeline so that you don't spend your Christmas Break trying to complete the most important application of your life.
Log-on to College Board and sign up for a complete college planning account, use their college search to narrow down your selection (at least four schools are recommended), register for the SAT, SAT subject tests, and ACT, and start talking to your counselor about fee waivers.
Also, don't hesitate to go over your transcripts with a counselor right now. Yes it's your senior year but if something has been overlooked or there is a chance to retake a class for a higher grade, get on that today while you still have the time. Common App colleges will all be different but check out the UC Required 15 classes to get a good baseline.
Create a list that includes applications fees, deadlines, test dates, and your school's application processing deadline. Download all college applications and forms. Oftentimes Common App schools will have additional personal insight questions that can be time consuming and will take a considerable amount of thought. Even if you just read the questions, your brain can start forming responses during the busy days ahead.
If there are any colleges you still haven't visited, now is the time! Go back and look at my BLOG post about visiting college campuses.
Now is the time to finish your applications. Make a checklist for EACH school. Applying to multiple schools can be complicated, even if they are all UCs or use the Common App. Reach out to teachers, employers, and other influential adults NOW for letters of rec. See my earlier BLOG about requesting letters too. UCs don't currently require them but most scholarships will ask for two letters of rec. The more time you give someone the write a letter, the happier they will be while they write it.
College essays need to be done. Don't put this off as it is, in my opinion, the most important part of the application because it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear your voice. This is also the time to ask your counselors to send in your transcripts. They are not final but show the colleges what you intend to complete so make sure you keep your grades up your entire senior year!
Don't wait to apply to Common App Schools! Many of my students wrap up their UC applications and then lose steam and put off the Common App until after Christmas. You already are in the zone of applying, don't make it that much harder on yourself by taking a mental break. Push through and get them all done.
Now focus on financial aide. Complete the FAFSA and search for scholarships. Millions go unclaimed every year. It doesn't matter how small the scholarship may be, it's FREE money and it all adds up.
Visit College Board and check out the entire College Application Timeline.
Bryan Starchman teaches personal insight writing for THE College Prep Camp. He is also an English and Drama teacher at Mariposa County High School and a published playwright.