5 Tips to Staying on Track with College Applications

College Application season is slowly coming to a close. The first big push for applications happens in November for early deadlines. This momentum carries applicants through University of California November 30th deadlines and Regular Decision deadlines at the beginning of January. But what about schools with later deadlines? It is difficult to remain focused when you’ve been working on applications since the summer!

Staying motivated and finishing your applications on time is just as important in February or March as it is in November. See these five tips to staying on track with college applications!

1. Create a Calendar

Compile your final application deadlines and work backwards from those dates. What needs to happen before the due date? Set yourself a timeline for when you should be sending scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Make sure that you are budgeting enough time to complete supplemental essays and to fill out the application itself. Your internal deadlines for these tasks should be set much earlier than the actual date. Give yourself extra time in case emergencies come up!

2. Prioritize Your Tasks

Once you have your calendar set, prioritize your tasks based off of importance. Time management for students is key. Handle time-sensitive issues, such as sending test scores, first. For longer-term aspects, like writing your supplemental essays, make sure you’re budgeting enough time to include a few round of edits. Even if essays don’t always seem like the first priority, they still take a lot of time. Don’t leave them for the last minute!

3. Set Aside Time Every Week for Applications

If you can consistently set aside the same amount of time every day or every week to work on your applications, you will be much more productive. Mark off a few hours to dedicate to your applications. You might have less work now that most schools’ deadlines have passed, but don’t underestimate the amount of energy these applications take! When you sit down to work, put away your phone, turn off the TV, and remove any other distractions. Especially once the new school semester picks up after winter break, setting aside this time is key towards working efficiently and effectively.

4. Review Your Work

Always budget in time to review your work. Especially with an extended timeline and the stress of the January 1st deadline behind you, your later applications should be as polished as possible. Give yourself time to work through multiple edits of your essays. Revisit your personal statement and double check everything on your Common App. Before you submit, look through some last minute college application tips and have a family member or a friend or a stranger (or all three) read through your application for grammar and typos.

5. Prepare for Your Interviews

Interviews are your chance to show a school the type of person, roommate, and classmate you will be on campus. A bad interview could stop the momentum of your application; an exceptionally good interview could be the tipping point into the acceptance pile. And while interviews typically will not make or break your application, you should still take this process seriously. Factor in time for a practice session with a parent or older sibling, look put together at your interview, and show up on time.

Don’t let later deadlines or later interviews affect your motivation! Staying organized and on task is the key to keeping yourself on track to finishing your applications. Once the rush of most regular deadlines is over, you have a great opportunity to reassess, organize, and focus.
Hannah Smith is a graduate of Stanford University and an Admissions Expert at InGenius Prep.

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