Q: I am a senior in high school and I feel like I am way behind when it comes to applying to college. What should I do?
A: If you are just beginning your senior year, you have already been told how busy you are going to be. Do not get stressed! As far as the college planning part of your schedule goes, you have plenty of time -- you just need to prioritize your tasks and get going.
Here is my suggested “to-do” list for the next few weeks:
- Make an appointment to see your college counselor to finalize the list of schools to which you plan to apply.
- Make a chart listing each school, with the application requirements and due dates for each. This way, you will not be caught by surprise if you have to write any supplements. Post this chart in a highly visible spot, such as next to your desk or on the refrigerator door.
- Have you asked two teachers if they are willing to write letters of recommendation for you? If not, do this now – do not ask any teacher for a favor at the last minute! Remember that it’s better to ask teachers who know you well and like you, rather than simply the ones who gave you the best grades.
- Sign up for taking the SAT or ACT this fall if you have not already done so.
- Bring a draft of your essay or “personal statement” to your college counselor or English teacher for a review. Don't wait for the week before applications are due. Get an early start. Your first draft does not have to be perfect, but you need to know if you are on the right path.
- College representatives will be visiting high schools during September and October, as well as hosting information sessions at large hotels and other venues in the metropolitan area. Plan to attend these. Sign up for the visits at your school and check the colleges’ websites to see where their representatives will be traveling.
Organized preparation will be your key to significantly reducing college application stress! Got any specific questions? I'll answer them in my next column.