Out of all the things from the college past what we all remember the best it the pre-studies turmoil. As if the actual process of everyday studying isn’t hard enough, the very important precursor to your adult life - applying to college - is a challenge of its own.
Dealing with college application paperwork may seem boring and something to put off for as long as possible, but the whole process is a landmark decision and something to be taken seriously - you do not want to feel bitter about your choice. The first thing to do is to compile all the tasks ahead into a college application checklist to help you keep an eye on the process and not miss anything in the rush.
1. Create a college application action plan
First things first! Do an extensive research and don’t forget to update your checklist accordingly. Fill it with all the info and dates on all the tests, SATs, ACTs and finals. What are the requirements of the colleges you're thinking of applying to? Do you need a portfolio to apply to the colleges you chose?
Make a list of colleges you want to apply to. It will make it easier to make a comparative analysis and choose the best option and not miss the deadlines. Remember: planning is key!
2. The earlier you start the research the better for you
Nothing’s new: the closer the deadline the more precious time you'll spend on coping with anxiety rather than putting your efforts into the college application process.
3. No one is too cool for school
Yes, doing your best at school might seem overestimated and pointless at the moment but college admission authorities think otherwise. First, you work for your school transcript and then your school transcript works for you. You don’t have to ace every single test, just make a conscious effort to keep your grades at a decent level or - at the very least - the level required for successful college application.
4. Apply to as many colleges as possible
Keep your eggs in as many baskets as possible. Applying to college isn’t a marriage or proposal - it’s not illegal to apply to more than one. This will definitely raise your chance of being accepted or will not result in you wasting a year of your academic life.
While we're on the subject...
5. …apply as early as possible!
The more acceptances you get before winter the better. Doing so will grant you the opportunity and freedom to choose and change your mind whenever you want, making college application a breeze rather than another reason for a panic attack.
6. Don’t give up if you’re deferred
Don’t let the fact that you are deferred discourage you! On one hand, deferral from college acceptance might be a bit misleading - most people would prefer clarity of intentions or even a flat-out rejection. On the other hand, you should view this as a good hunk of chance! Every year colleges get tens of thousands of applications: if they are not interested in one then they just reject the unwanted college application. So keep your fingers crossed while the admission council takes a second look at your transcript and essay.
7. Are you eligible for educational benefits?
The earlier you start asking yourself this question the better. There is a high possibility that your teachers are not very interested in you getting the best deal when applying to college - don’t rely too much on someone being interested in your future more than you do. Look through all possible requirements for educational benefits eligibility, there might be a chance that you could find your situation there.
8. Look for every possible scholarship
Financial aid is something one should not shy away from no matter what. Even if you are sure you are not qualified for any and have no straws to grasp, research anyway! The very thought of all the student loans you will not have to take may really boost your productivity.
9. Take care of your college budget
Whether you get a scholarship or not, you still need money to cover your other needs, like accommodation, food, textbooks and supplies. Those expenditures are quite a load and shouldn’t be overlooked however busy you might find yourself with the paerwork. College application is a costly process, even with financial aid and possible benefits. Wise college budget planning will allow you to distribute your spendings in a smart way and keep your cool in case you spend too much.
10. Take both SAT and ACT.
This may sound like one of the most challenging points on your college application checklist. Exams sure are scary and the default should be to take either the SAT or ACT. Taking both pays off if you’re applying to a school that favors the ACT and another that favors the SAT.
You could also look up free SAT and ACT sample tests to be fully prepared to the procedure itself. Later you could use the better score in your favor. The SAT and ACT have several test dates throughout the year so you can choose the most convenient one. Most students do better the second time they take the exam and are less tense and more concentrated on the contents rather than on the procedure.