College Applications can be overwhelming and days spent waiting for an acceptance letter can be restless. But don’t panic, there are easy ways to help you get a grip on college prep, and looking at deadlines is always a good way of starting to get organized.
In order to have enough time to prepare, I recommend starting application work during the summer before your senior year, and if you’re one of those people who like to triple check everything, then spring semester of your junior year is the perfect time to start.
In order to remain organized and prevent panic attacks (whether it be yours’ or your parents’) it’s always a good idea to make an application checklist with the deadlines for each college. Although most of them have similar deadlines, the exact dates may vary so this is a great way to avoid confusion.
Some of the important dates you might want to have on the checklist are the deadlines for: common app (including essays), SAT or ACT test dates, priority financial aid, FAFSA reports, deadline to accept admission and send in deposit and the signed application.
Something else to consider are the possible options for admission, which include Early Action, Early Decision and Regular Admission.
Apply to College Early Action
This option consists of applying early (make sure to check if your college offers this option and when the application deadline for it is!) and receiving an admission decision early on in the admission cycle, usually December-February.
Early action acceptance recipients are not committed to attending that college. You are also welcome to apply to other colleges at the same time and under other admission plans.
This is a great option for people who like to plan ahead but would like to keep their options open. There is no commitment, and you can have more time to think about what option is best for you once you receive all admission decisions.
Apply to College Early Decision
This admission plan consists of an early application to a first-choice college. You will receive your admission decision early on, usually in December, and are committed to attending if accepted.
Although you are only allowed to apply to one college using this option, you are welcome to apply to other ones under regular admission plans. If you are offered admission after applying Early Decision, you will be asked to withdraw other applications.
This option is ideal for a very specific kind of person. It is recommended that you apply using this method only if you have done significant college research (maybe even college visits!) and have found a college that you believe is a perfect match for you. It is also recommended that you make sure to meet or exceed the admission profile and have a solid academic record.
Only apply Early Decision if you are 100% sure that you would like to attend that college if offered admission.
There’s no right answer for when the perfect time to apply to college is, but it is important to know what options are available. Research the deadlines for all of the colleges you are interested in, and make sure that you have enough time to complete and send in all the required documents. Don’t forget to give yourself time to go over everything before sending it in, and don’t be afraid to ask a college counselor or teacher to go over your applications with you.
-Ariela Rudy Zaltzman, Content Editor