By Stacey Milton
It’s hard to believe, but we are now in the midst of application season. We are busy reading Early Decision applications for the Class of 2017, and will soon move on to scholarship applications in early December. As you’ve probably discovered, this is a very deadline-driven process, and we know that it can be daunting. Many schools have multiple deadlines for scholarships and financial assistance, not to mention the application itself, and most students are applying to more than one school. For seniors, there will be a lot to keep track of during the next few months.
So how can you make this process a little easier on yourself? Here are a few tips.
- Create a master schedule for all of the deadlines that apply to you. This includes deadlines for applications (Early Decision, Early Action, Regular Decision), financial aid (they may be different for each school) and scholarships. And don’t just make note of the dates. Are there additional essays or other requirements? Multiple forms that are required? This schedule can take any form you want. Create an excel sheet, buy a calendar, or put pen to paper and make a chart. You can even try to have a little fun with it—color coding and stickers allowed.
- Note how much preparation will need to go into each deadline and requirement. Do you need to write an additional essay? Are there special forms required? Do standardized test scores need to be submitted by the official testing agency? Are other people involved? Just knowing the deadlines isn’t necessarily enough. Make some notes regarding the amount of time you’ll need to put into the different parts of the application process. The more you plan and prepare, the better. For example, our Trustee Scholarship has a December 1 deadline—you don’t want to be scrambling on November 30 to write an essay that could put you in the running for a full-tuition scholarship. Also, give other people enough time to help you. If you need a teacher’s recommendation, don’t wait until the last minute to ask for it. You don’t want to annoy or frustrate your teacher before asking them to write a positive letter about you.
- Prioritize. You can only apply to college as a freshman once (in most cases). It is important that you put in the time and effort to ensure that you are presenting yourself in the best light. If you are like most seniors, you are probably juggling classes and homework, extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, friends and your social life…maybe even more. Help yourself through this process by setting aside time to devote to completing applications. This means filling out forms, writing essays, and proofreading.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: you should re-read and review every section of your application. This includes your list of extra-curricular activities, short answers, essays – even your academic course listings. We read everything closely; so should you. It does not inspire confidence to see that a student interested in studying psychology is taking AP “Pyscholgy” in their senior year. Or that they are interested in the “Collage” of Arts and Sciences. Proofread. You may not notice it, but we will. And while we know students are applying to multiple institutions, remember that we don’t need to know why you want to attend Boston College, Georgetown, or NYU. Make sure you’re sending the right credentials to the right places.
- Monitor your application once submitted. We will send you a confirmation email once you’ve submitted your application. This will go to the email address that you included on your Common Application form. First, be sure that your email account is set to accept emails from firstname.lastname@example.org. This email will also include instructions regarding how to set up the Web Account you will use to monitor your application status. If we are missing anything from you, we will let you know through this account. If your application is complete, we’ll let you know that, too. Eventually, we will send your decision electronically through this account. Check it often and make sure that you’ve sent everything in that is required. Many students are denied every year because they don’t complete their application. Don’t let that happen to you!
- Ask questions. Unclear about a requirement or deadline? We are here to help you, so be in touch if you have questions. With that said, remember that all deadlines and requirements are posted on our website, so it’s best to check there first. If you are still unsure about something, it’s always better to double check than to miss out on an opportunity, so feel free to email or call us.