Empowering students and guiding families

You have a college list-now what?

You know that you need a balanced college list. You’ve done the research and visited the schools. You feel that you’d be happy at all of your schools, (if not then why bother applying, right?). You’ve started your Common App (www.commonapp.org) and even finished the main essay. Now what?

Unless you plan to have all your applications (and supplemental essays) done by October 15, you will need to prioritize your list by deadline. This blog is not addressing Early Decision at all-that would be another post!

If you are exclusively using the Common App then you can have all your deadlines right on your dashboard. These will not show up until you go into each school and click on the ‘add your term or admission plan’ . Once you do this you will be directed to answer a few questions including the most important ‘preferred admission term’. This may vary by school. Some will have Early Decision (which I’m not addressing), Early Action, Restricted Early Action (I’m not addressing this, either), and Regular Decision. You will either click on Early Action or Regular Decision for the sake of this post. As a side note, your ‘preferred start term’ will most likely be Fall 2017 unless you are a current college student who is applying as a transfer. This seems perfectly logical, and it is, but it’s tripped up many anxious applicants and it’s embarrassing to have to call the college to change the date.

So, you have all your deadlines on your dashboard. Why did you do this in August? It’s a great idea to know when your first deadline is. This is the date that you will give to your school counselor and other recommenders. One thing that you don’t want to do is to drop this deadline on them two days prior. I like students to give at least two weeks notice so that recommenders can plan the order in which they need to write their letters for you and other students. More notice is better!

Another reason to get all your admission deadlines in front of you is so that can plan which applications need to be done first. You may have several schools that have supplemental essays (I’m looking at you, Boston College) and you may not have time to get them all done before the deadlines. This is where you prioritize which schools make sense to apply early. If you have a school that has it’s own application, (I’m looking at you, MIT) then you need to keep this deadline info somewhere where you won’t lose track of it.

So, why would you apply early, anyway? Good question. You might choose to apply in the fall to get the stressful job over with. You might also apply early to have a chance at more merit money, (note that this varies by school). Applying under an early action plan will also mean that you should have a decision sooner.

Also, in my opinion, it’s worth keeping in mind that ‘optional’ supplemental essays really aren’t optional :)

So, why would you wait? It may make sense to wait for regular decision if you feel that you don’t have your very best application. You may want to submit first quarter or first semester grades or you may plan to take the December SAT.  The beauty is that you can choose which way to apply to all your schools.

To summarize-knowing your deadlines helps recommenders plan and helps you plan your college application strategy.

While we are talking deadlines I can’t help but mention that financial aid deadlines are all over the place and need to be managed as well!

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