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Inside tips and advice from AcceptU's team of former admissions officers

Stephen

Seniors, time to get started on your apps

July 28, 2011, Posted In Admissions Overview

The pressure is mounting for rising seniors.

School starts up again within a month, and if you’re a senior, you’d best get organized when it comes to college admissions. You’ll be busy – to put it mildly – with your classes and extracurricular involvement, so you won’t have time to dedicate to your college applications.

Start now.

Visit colleges so that you can finalize your college list. Finalize your college list so that you know which essay questions and standardized tests will be required of you.

Even if you don’t know all your colleges, you can find five essay examples on the Common Application website. Your college essays will likely be the same, or similar, to those listed on the Common App. To see the questions, click here and scroll to page five. Think about each essay question – eliminate those you don’t like. Consider topics where admissions officer can learn more about you and your interests. Start a draft, put it aside, come back to it later. You can take your time if you start right now. You’ll be rushed if you start in September or October.

What else can you do before school starts? Study for standardized exams if you plan to take any. Your scores can improve if you dedicate time and effort to studying; they likely will not improve if you just take them cold, or only study for one day or one week.

Finally, organize your resume. Think about your extracurricular activities and work experience: How many hours per week (on average) did you spend on each one? How many weeks per year (on average) did you dedicate? College apps ask for this info, so be sure to document it. Consider only activities that you’ve participated in for two or more years, and especially those in which you’ve held leadership positions.

Applying early is always a good thing so that colleges have your materials in hand and can start the evaluation process. If there’s a missing piece, they’ll let you know and you’ll have time to fill in the gaps. If you apply late, then spaces might already fill up. (For example, if the deadline is December 31, consider submitting your app a month or even two months ahead of time.)

Juniors and younger, take note. Soon you’ll be experiencing the same senior stress – but you can make your life easier if you start early and stay organized.