Beyond the College Essay: 7 Tips for Navigating the Application Process

College applications can get out of control. Deadlines, transcripts, fees, essays, recommendations – yikes! Follow the steps below to stay organized and anxiety-free!

organizingpic1. Choose Your Schools

Make a list of all schools you are considering.  Remember to consider “off-the-path” schools that are academically suitable for you but that are not necessarily “big name” schools.  Be sure to choose a few reach schools, a few safety schools and several match schools.

2. Create a Common Application Account

Hundreds of schools use the common application.  It’s an easy way to stay organized and on track.  Log on to to create an account and begin the application process.

3. Create Online Accounts for “Non-CommonApp” Schools

Most (if not all) schools prefer that you submit applications electronically.  Be sure to create accounts and watch deadlines for schools that are not on the common application.

4. Request Recommendations

Ask teachers, coaches and employers for letters of recommendations early!  Mid-year, teachers are bombarded with requests and won’t be able to spend much time on each letter.

5. Outline the Required Essays

The common application requires a personal statement and short paragraph about an extracurricular activity.  Many schools also require supplemental essays that range in topic. Outline your essay topics to see which essays overlap and can be used for more than one school.

6. Set Deadlines

If the submission date says April 15th, don’t plan on submitting April 15th.  Plan on submitting earlier (much earlier) to show your interest and intent.

7. Visit Schools and Request Meetings

Visit your top-choice schools and make sure you’d be happy spending four-years on that campus.  Many schools offer interviews and overnight-stay options for students to ask questions and get a feel for campus life.

Helpful Links:

The Common Application

CollegeBoard’s Organizer

Home Organizer – The College Box

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