When Should Seniors Apply for College?

You don’t want to miss out on your perfect college because you missed the deadline dates. Here’s what you need to know.

Applying for colleges is an all-consuming affair. Unfortunately, some students get so bogged down with fixing up all the details, they miss the most important stat.

The application date.

All your work will be for naught if you miss an application deadline. That doesn’t just mean getting all your work done in time – it also means getting everything else in order ahead of time. Your high school English teacher might not be able to write a last-minute letter of recommendation for you – especially since there are always a bunch of stragglers asking for the same, all at once.

With that in mind, let’s go over the most important dates. Also keep in mind – We at College Made Simple don’t necessarily recommend students apply Early Action or Early Decision… primarily because it can hurt the student’s chances of receiving the best financial aid package.

Early Decision

If you are applying early action or decision, make sure you contact the school to find out the exact deadline. Each school is different, but almost all of them fall sometime in November.

Applying early decision is highly recommended. Not only does it give you a shot at avoiding the trouble of applying elsewhere if you get into the perfect school, but it also sets you up well for making all later deadlines. One complete application makes all the others go more smoothly.

In order to apply early, you’ll want to take any additional SAT or ACT tests in September. You should start working on your essays about the same time – with a full school workload, give yourself plenty of time. You also want to have time to show your essays to trusted advisors for comments and edits.

It’s not a bad idea to start asking for recommendations in September as well. This is great in a number of ways. It gives your teacher or other trusted elder plenty of time to get it done. It gives you time to remind them later, if it slips through the cracks. And, if it does get forgotten and your recommender has to complete it at the last minute, you’ll be at the front of the line.

You can get away asking for a recommendation in October – just make sure you ask at least two weeks before your deadline, and preferably at least a month.

Regular Decision

If you’re doing regular decision applications after – great! You’ve got most of your materials already in order.

If you’re only applying regular decision, check with your schools. Almost all have deadlines ranging from January 1 to mid-February, but a few have earlier dates.

Ideally, you want to have your applications ready to go by the time winter break rolls around. No one wants to spend Christmas Eve writing essays.

Just as with early action, give yourself a buffer time to get everything done. Ask recommenders for a letter at least a month before your deadline – or, rather, the last time you’ll see them prior to the deadline line (often the last day of school before winter break). The more time you can give, the better – there will be more requests this time of year.

Give yourself a good two months to work on your essays. That way, again, you’ve plenty of time to work on them and revise them – and it’s easy to squeeze in an hour here or there, as opposed to writing marathons in the middle of semester finals.

Follow these simple rules, and you’ll have no problem making your colleges’ deadlines.

To your college admissions success,

Scott Weingold
Publisher and Co-founder, CollegeMadeSimple.com

Related Articles:

Early Decision vs. Early Action

College Application Checklist

Is Early Admission a Good Idea?

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1 Comment

Shirley ZenkerMarch 14th, 2011 at 7:40 am

You are talking of Essay Writing, is there a particular topic you one student should ponder in the Essay Writing? What usually are discussed in the Essay that most colleges and universities want to read on.

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.