The stories of students unnecessarily applying to 20 plus colleges or submitting and facing deferral to only one Early Decision school are not urban myths, but they are scenarios that can be avoided with guidance. Knowing when to begin to familiarize yourself with the college search and application landscape ensures adequate time to identify the qualities you would like in a college you want to attend.
Starting college research, mapping out test preparation, visiting schools, and gathering materials for your applications takes time and organization. The difference between a positive and balanced college search and a stressful one often comes down to "pay now or pay later.” Putting in the time up front doesn’t mean expanding the timeline, but rather avoiding panic, poor timing and late-night decisions later on.
The college essay, while daunting for some, is no different. Careful planning will allow you the space to write authentically and distinguish yourself. Building in enough time to brainstorm, draft, and edit will support all different writing styles, from the deadline-driven to the multi-drafters. College essays have taken on a life of their own, with websites, books and experts completely devoted to how to master the essay. In addition to mapping out a timeline, there are plenty of resources for students that address key topics: where to start, topics to avoid, and why parent support is best only when requested (and then only for gentle proofing). What is vital to a successful essay is helping students find their voice, their story and their words, and gaining an understanding of where they fit in the context of seniors applying to college throughout the country and abroad.
The anticipation and excitement of going to college can be a critical motivator. Creating a timeline that incorporates enough time, the right tools, resources, and guidance will support this positive energy and lead to a more successful experience.
Ready to build a timeline that will work for you and need more resources to start your college search? Start with College Resources and Books and check out New Season, New Tools and New Resources and then figure out what else you will need.
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