It’s that time of year! The Class of 2018 is buckling down (or should be) with their college applications and folks are getting anxious as high school graduation gets closer. I always get this question so here is the list of where you should be in your application process right now.

-Your college list is complete.

It is really important that you have a solid list of about eight to twelve colleges that you will actually attend. I have discussed quite a few things related to creating a college list because the list is so critical especially if you are wanting to graduate, in as close to four years, with as little debt as possible. I really can’t underscore enough how important it is to have a balanced mix of Reach, Sure Bet, and Safety schools, and about half public, half private. Once your list is solid, decide if you would like to apply ED to any of the schools. Then you want to strategize around the order you will submit your applications. A quick rule is to apply to your Reach and Sure Bet schools by early November, even if you are not applying with an ED designation. Leave your Safety schools for later (December-ish) when you know if there is a need based on what the you are hearing from your Reach and Sure Bet schools.

-Your Common App essay is nearly complete.

One of the things that seems to get the procrastinating student caught up is the logistical pieces of the Common App. You can’t leave that for the night before because it takes a lot longer than you think. Get that moving and completed as soon as possible, especially to the part where you are listing your colleges. It will automatically populate the additional essay questions and you need to get moving on those as well.

If you are applying to schools not on the Common App, such as Georgetown or the UCs and CSUs, you will want most of those applications completed at this time as well.

-You have completed most of the Common App especially sending the request for letters to your recommenders.

I will never forget this nugget of advice from just about every college admissions officer that I have ever spoken to. They all seem to have a few points of consensus, but on this topic they were pretty adamant: Adults tend to be a common factor in how students lose their admissions. As a teacher, I see that. Some teachers don’t think it’s important so they write crappy letters. Others prefer not to hurt a student’s feelings so they don’t tell them that they are writing a crappy letter. There are some things that you can control in this process and one of them is ensuring your recommender hands in her/his letter on time. Your application is not considered complete without your letters and you will likely not be notified if your letter is missing. Therefore, you want to first send the link for your recommenders to upload the letters, and let them know if you are intending to submit your application before the due date.

-You have at least one SAT or ACT under your belt and are preparing for the subject tests, if anything.

This really is not the time to take the SAT or ACT. You are doing a lot with your applications and senior year school work. And at this time of year, I have rarely seen much movement on a test score in a positive direction. You also want to think about admission rates. Some schools go from 6% admit rate in January to 25% in the fall–is it worth the risk of submitting your application in the fall for a few points on the test?

If a college recommends that you take subject tests, I highly recommend that you do. This time of year is the best time to do that, if you haven’t completed those already.

-You are getting ready to start the FAFSA.

I have written quite a bit on the FAFSA as well. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a requirement to receive any federal monies from a college. This includes need-based and a lot of merit-based aid. Often times people think they will not be eligible for funds and they do not bother to complete this form. This is incorrect and you really don’t have anything to lose by completing it. The FAFSA opens soon so this is a great time for families to gather their financial documents to get started.

-If you are a transfer student, you have also designated any TAG schools and your eligibility.

Guaranteed transfer agreements are great ways to ensure you graduate from the four-year university in a reasonable amount of time. In California, these TAG applications are due on September 30, so get cracking!

-If you are a student athlete or artist, you have completed the eligibility requirements, including supplemental performance pieces.

Student athletes have additional requirements that confirm their amateur status. You also want to be mindful of the recruitment calendar, especially for spring sports. Check out the eligibility center for more information.

Musicians and artists also have additional requirements including portfolios and recordings that they may have to submit with their applications. Be sure to see what is required and complete those first. My best advice is to work with a teacher to look through multiple options to select what is best. In order to do that, you will need to get an early start, so get to singing/painting/playing!

Wow…that was a lot! Do you have questions? Contact us for a free consultation.