Last Updated: Oct 20, 2020
College application season officially starts the second the Common Application opens on August 1. Even though most applications open this early, many rising high school seniors don’t take advantage of this opportunity to get a head start. So why should you submit your college applications early? And how can you accomplish this?
How: utilize the summer
You will likely have much more free time over the summer than you will have going into your senior year. You can even start your applications before August 1, like filling out basic information about your demographics and contact information on the Common App. Filling out your activities and awards is helpful too—just don’t forget to add anything new that happens during senior year!
New essay prompts usually come out around this time too (even though they typically stay the same from year to year). One of the best things I did for myself over the summer was working on all of my essays. I had plenty of time to brainstorm exactly what angle I wanted to take and the points I wanted to make in each essay. This also gave me plenty of time to read my essays…then read them again…and read them a few more times until I felt confident enough to get feedback from my friends and teachers. This saved me so much time during the school year that will be better spent enjoying my senior year!
How: make sure you have everything in order
Most college applications, especially when they’re on the Common or Coalition Application, tend to ask a lot of questions. Many of them you might not really know the answers to. This means you could end up digging through all your parents’ files and paperwork to find out the exact day you moved into your house or even how long your parent has lived in the state you’re in now. There are also questions only your counselor might be able to answer, like how your school measures their GPA. All of these questions are super important, and getting a head start allows you to have more time to gather all the information necessary.
I personally didn’t realize just how much goes into a college application. It wasn’t until I got excited because everything started to finally be in order that I realized I needed another recommendation letter from my school counselor. No matter how prepared or organized you are, there could always be one last thing you need that could sneak up on you. This is a huge reason starting your applications early is important.
Why: because senioritis is real
If you’re anything like me, you spent all of high school thinking the epidemic that is senioritis is just an exaggeration. Take it from me: senioritis is very real, and we all come down with a bad case of it at some point. Don’t let your college applications weigh you down when all you really want to do is take a nice, long nap.
Why: you'll beat the college admission rush
No matter what, there will always be those kids who submit their application at 11:59 pm the night of their application deadline. This usually means they went rushing from teacher to teacher begging to get a recommendation by the end of the week and struggling to throw an essay together. While you might be able to throw together a passable essay the night before it’s due, why not save yourself the stress and start early?
Why: you'll have time to focus on scholarships
Once you finally get all your applications submitted, you can use that extra time to apply for scholarships. You can even find some great scholarships using the CollegeXpress scholarship search. Another great place to look for scholarships is your school’s counseling office! They will likely know all the best local scholarships that are specific to you.
No matter what, the college application process can be stressful. Not everyone has to start writing their college essays the second they wrap up their junior year—just make sure you set some time aside to work on your applications. Senior year is supposed to be fun, so don’t let it become overrun with stress.
Before you hit submit, you have to find colleges to apply to. Find your perfect-fit schools on CollegeXpress!