While I’m sure many of y’all have been enjoying your summer with your friends and family, you all have a difficult semester coming up. Taking on both challenging coursework and college applications at the same time can be a daunting task, so getting an early start on the apps can really help you when the deadlines begin to pile up. The Common Application opens up August 1, so get ready!
Although the essay topics were posted a little while ago, August is a great time to start brainstorming ideas or writing early drafts. Starting early on your essay allows you to ask your teachers, guidance counselors, and mentors to help and comments before all of your classmates rush to do the same. Plus, from my own experience, it took me a long time to get my first essay done, but the following essays came much more quickly. Essay writing is a lot about practice, and the more your write, the better and quicker you get at it. I’m not advocating for dedicating every waking minute of the rest of your summer to writing essays, but spending a little time each day could bring many benefits in the coming months.
One of the first things students should do on the Common App is fill out their profile. The profile includes basic personal and academic information, and it gives you an opportunity to talk about your extracurricular activities and accolades. Much of the information in this section can be filled out without a lot of planning or deep thought, and filling it out when you have time in the summer can save you precious time later as you cram to finish an application the night before the deadline (Don’t do this, though! Get stuff done early!). It takes longer than you think to type in your address or your community service projects from freshman year. Students who have not really thought about specific colleges can also fill this section out. The “common” part of the application is sent to all of the colleges you apply to through the Common App. (The essay sent to all of the colleges, too, but I bet it’ll take you a little longer to get that finished up.)
For those with some colleges on your radar, add them to your application so you can see the supplements and deadlines. Many colleges require additional information or essays, but all of that is visible on their Common App page. Reading through the prompts early can give you ample time to think the questions through before answering them later. (Note: Some colleges do not open their Common App applications until later. Check each college’s website individually to see those dates.) Some colleges, particularly really selective ones, have extensive supplemental requirements with many essays or short-answer questions. Many of those questions will require a bit of insightful thinking and/or research on the college itself. Getting started early will give you more time to answer the prompts effectively.
Also, for those looking to apply Early Action or Early Decision or for those applying to college with rolling admissions, the clock is ticking! October will be here before you now it for the early deadlines, and waiting to turn in your application for rolling schools can decrease your chances of admission. You do not want to be rushed to finish an application right before an important deadline as rushed work is generally of lower quality and tends to be less polished. Put yourself in the best situation possible for turning in a good application: start early!
Seniors, you have time now to both enjoy your summer and get a head start on some pretty important work. Strike a good balance between summer fun and college applications during the month of August. Trust me, it’ll pay off come October or December.