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How to Avoid the “College Procrastination Syndrome”
In this post, Grace Song of the Acceptional High School Journalism Program outlines some steps applicants can take to avoid leaving all their college applications until the last minute.
At the end of junior year, college may seem like a far away task that you can push off until later. But this type of mentality is what traps most seniors into scrambling last minute to turn in all of the forms, essays, and recommendations. To avoid the stress and procrastination that senior year, and college applications, entails, follow these simple guidelines to a smooth and successful application process.
End of Junior Year
Most colleges require one to two teacher recommendations for admittance. Thus at the end of junior year, evaluate which teachers you have grown close to and have made a good impression. Before the school year comes to a close, ask them if they would be willing to write a teacher evaluation for your college application. Most teachers will have specific requirements such as a mock teacher recommendation, a resume and some personal essays. Start on those forms early on during your summer so that you don’t have to worry about that once school starts again. Most teachers will have a specified amount of college recommendations they are willing to write, so be sure to secure a recommendation letter before the summer starts.
Summer After Junior Year
Start researching colleges during the summer. It is a good idea to know what kind of college you are looking for, whether it is on the east coast, or close to home. There are many aspects of choosing a college like location, tuition fee, majors, and campus life. Start by making a list of colleges that meet your most important criteria. It is recommended that you start thinking about the subject you want to major in so that you can narrow down your college choices. A good way to start is by choosing three to four reach schools, match schools, and safety schools. This way, if you don’t end up getting into your reach schools, you will have a backup plan. By the end of the summer, you should have a pretty solid list of schools that fit all your needs. Talk with your parents about the tuition and distance from home. I know parents that give their kids a specific distance they can go and others that are willing to let their child go out of state.
Beginning of August
Once the summer comes to an end, the Common Application and other college applications will be released online in the beginning of August. There are multiple parts to theses applications and they do take a lot of time and work. There are essays and short answer responses that may take you multiple edits to perfect. Therefore start on your application immediately after it is released. A great way to balance the work load is by making a list of due dates that correspond to the times you will have finished a draft of an essay. If you don’t have time to start on your essays, at least glimpse over them and jot down some ideas that you can start thinking about. Starting on your college essays in August will help shave off a considerable amount of pressure and stress when September and October come.
October to November
If you plan on applying to private colleges and universities, those schools normally have supplement essays you have to complete. The amount of supplemental essays you have to write can range from one to seven. Liberal arts colleges tend to require more essays and short answers so they can get a better idea of who you are and how you write. Depending on the number and types of colleges you plan on applying to, you will need to start early and pace yourself so that you aren’t left with a load of essays to finish a few weeks before they are due. Most Early decision applications are due November 1st while regular decision applications are due early January. If you can churn out rough drafts for your essays by the end of October, you will be able to revise your essays well before they are due.
The college process really isn’t that stressful if you are able to set rules for yourself and pace your workload. Senior year may seem like the year to relax and enjoy time with your friends, but school work, extracurricular activities, and college essays can take up a good amount of your time. If you are able to force yourself to start on your applications in advance, I guarantee you that you will be less stressful once crunch time comes around.
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