Whether you have already started the new school year, or are savoring the last moments of the summer, there is no denying that the college applications season is upon us. For high school seniors, it can be a stressful time, but here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate through college admissions.

Application Forms

After you have decided which colleges to apply to, it is necessary to determine which application form to use. Some colleges, such as the University of California, will have their own application forms and systems, but many schools utilize the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Some colleges even use both. Which application form a college uses can be found on each college’s admissions website. If a college accepts applications through multiple channels, you may only submit one application!

Be Aware of Application Deadlines

There are different application deadlines, and you will need to consider which one will work best for you. The urgency for preparing early is intensified if you are considering applying Early Action (EA) or Early Decision (ED). With EA/ED, you will hear of your admissions decision early, usually by December, but many EA/ED schools have application deadlines as early as October. Is your application ready early to compete with other students also applying early?

Some schools will also have specialized degree programs or honors programs that also have early deadlines. If you are interested in pursuing these opportunities, early preparation is required.

If you need more time to prepare your applications or to complete more testing (SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, etc), then Regular Decision (RD) deadlines will be the one for you.

Don’t Delay Your Personal Statement Essays

Each college has its own admissions essay requirements and prompts, all requiring brainstorming, revising and multiple drafts. Take time to reflect on which prompt(s) will best tell your own story. And definitely spend time editing for spelling and grammar so that you can present yourself in the best light. Do not wait until the last minute to write your college admission essays.

In Summary

You are taking an important step forward and making important decisions for your future. The college application season may seem daunting, but with early preparation and organization, you will feel less stressed and be ready to tackle all the tasks ahead of you.