When Should I Start My College Applications?

When should I start my college application? The answer to this question can affect every element of your application, especially if you get started too late to adequately prepare. When is too late? When is too early? Is there even such a thing? Indeed there is, and with the guide below, you should be able to dial in when precisely is the best time to start on your college applications.

Too Late: Senior Year

Legions of families erroneously associate college applications with only senior year. If you wait to start your applications until you are already a senior in high school, you have waited too long. The fall of senior year is the busiest semester of any student’s high school career as they juggle their activities and the most difficult classes they’ve ever taken while simultaneously working on applications. Some work will always need to be done during this time, but saving all work until the fall can turn into a suicide mission, especially for those applying Early Decision and Early Action.

Too Early: Junior Year Winter or Before

When it comes to college planning, no time is too early, but with college applications themselves, this is not the case. Your applications need to represent as much of your profile as possible, and if you begin work on your essays and other writing before the second semester of Junior year, you still have over six months of activities, achievements, and personal growth left before submission. This will either result in not much work being done, or time being wasted when you re-write all your essays closer to deadlines.

Just Right: Junior Year Spring/Summer

Families in the know, and especially families of athletes, want to start working on their applications and ideally even complete them over the summer. This is a great instinct, especially for essays. While some summer activities may not have taken place yet, space can be saved in essays for any stories or achievements that happen. All this said, however, there are a few elements of applications that should not be left until the summer. Letters of recommendation, for both counselors and teachers, should be requested before Junior year ends to ensure availability and cushion. Then, once classes end, you can turn your full attention to drafting essays and filling out the Common Application.

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Tags: Higher Education, College, College Admissions, College Applications, College Consultants, Personal Statement, College Essays, Essay Editing, Application Essays, Letters of Recommendation, Letter of Recommendations, Recommendations, Extracurricular activities, Extracurriculars, Activities