College Application Checklist

keep-calm-and-let-s-get-it-started-3Labor Day has passed, school has started, and schedules have gotten tighter.  The reality that your child will be applying to colleges THIS FALL has finally set in.

For those who start early, a year or two in advance, this is simply the next stage in the process – a stage for which you and the teenager who lives with you have been preparing.  Freaking out is not necessary; just check off these steps of the college application checklist:

  • Finalize college list
  • Main and supplemental essay drafts
  • Ask teachers for recommendations
  • Take the SAT one more time

For parents and students who haven’t thought about the college application process before now, September brings panic. There’s so much to do, and so little time.  There is simply not enough time to explore a dozen, two dozen, three dozen colleges to see if they could be a good fit, academically and socially.  So they just throw together a list based on the “popular” schools, and the schools whose names they know.

One of our clients said to us that when October rolled around, she was so pleased that her son had finalized his list and was well on the way to submitting a number of Early Action applications, while she could see her fellow parents scrambling as their kids were just getting started on their UC essays, due at the end of November.  Planning pays off in the form of less stress.  Who wants to live with a stressed out teenager?

So if you’re the parent of a 10th or 11th grader, and you keep telling yourself it’s too early, we’re here to tell you that it’s not.  The earlier you start, the more time your son or daughter will have to look at colleges; prepare for admission tests; and write, revise and perfect essay drafts.  Most importantly, they will have enough time to feel confident that there really are colleges out there that could be perfect for them.  Lots of them!!

A word on another transition that the fall season brings.  For those who have started early, students will soon find that while EXPLORING colleges is fun, actually applying to college is … not so much.  We’re quickly getting to the point in time where it’s time to be done looking and start applying.  We are generally gentle with students as we move from the fun and excitement of looking at websites, talking about visits, etc., to the methodical task-based process of getting applications done and submitted.  Unfortunately, the fat envelope (or these days, the congratulatory e-mail) does not arrive unless everything is successfully submitted.

So seniors – let’s get to it!  And sophomores and juniors – let’s get started!!

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