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When Should I Start Applying to Colleges?

The college application process can elicit feelings of excitement and anxiety, but applying early can help ease the worry and put you on the right track.

Sara LindbergSara Lindberg
Freelance Writer
Former High School Counselor
The college application process can elicit feelings of both excitement and anxiety—and often at the same time! Your first order of business? Allow yourself plenty of lead time to complete your applications before the published deadlines. Typically, most colleges open their application window in September, with the average deadlines ranging from November 1–February 1. That said, there are several schools with deadlines through the spring, and some have “rolling deadlines,” which means they accept applications all year long.

If you’re a junior, take some time to research and make note of the various deadlines. You can keep track of the information by creating a Google Sheet or spreadsheet with all the colleges you’re interested in. Make a column with the current deadline, then add other columns that list all the items you need to complete the application (i.e., letters of recommendation, supplemental essays, transcripts, activities résumé, etc.). By the time senior year rolls around, all you’ll have to do is double-check the deadlines and requirements and update your spreadsheet. Once you have all your application materials ready to go, you’ll be ready to create an account and apply.

For more advice from our experts, visit our Ask the Experts—College Admission section!

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