Ask An Expert: The College Application Timeline

August 26, 2015

Photo by shutterbugamar via Flickr

This week, our resident expert, Joie Jager-Hyman, founder of College Prep 360 and author of the acclaimed books Fat Envelope Frenzy and B+ Grades, A+ College Applications, answers the question: What’s your recommended college application timeline?

It’s sad to say, but summer is almost over, school is almost back in session, and college application craziness is just ramping up. Sometimes, with the combination of schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and social and family life, the task of applying to college seems insurmountable. Here is a timeline and some tips to guide students towards a manageable, straightforward, and smooth application period:

First 1/2 of September: Go back to school with a finished common application!

  • If you have not finished it already, do so ASAP and make sure to spend a lot of time working on the activities section—be thorough and thoughtful
  • Show your common application essay to at least two adults who are NOT your parents
  •  

  • Have a conversation with your guidance counselor about your first choice school so he or she can communicate that to school reps visiting high schools in September
  •  

  • Register for any ACT/SAT/Subject tests you still need to take 

Second 1/2 of September & beginning of October: Work on supplemental essays for Early Decision/Action schools

  • Make sure all your test scores are sent in
  • Make sure all your recommendations are in
  •  

  • Work on supplemental essays for schools that you will apply to Early Decision/Action, and show your essays to 2 adults that are NOT your parents 

October 15th: Finalize and submit November 1st deadline applications

  • Make sure to print out and proofread all applications, and make sure to have adults look them over as well
  • Some schools do look at the postmark date as an indicator of level of interest, so submit now and you will be in a great place
  •  

  • Columbus day: good day for any last minute visits! 
  •  

Second 1/2 of October: Follow up

  • After your applications are submitted, send an email to your first choice school letting them know that you submitted your application and that they are your first choice

November & Early December: Continue your Supplemental Essays and Schoolwork

  • Show batches of supplemental essays to adults
  • Focus on your midterms and schoolwork before the winter break
  •  

  • Go on your Early Decision/Action alumni interviews
  •  

  • Take any college board tests you still need to
  •  

January: Applications are due!

I’ve always said that organization is the key to a great application. By setting deadlines, reasonable timelines, and accomplishable goals for yourself, you are setting yourself up for success and moving that much closer to getting an email from an admissions officer at your dream college congratulating you on your acceptance. And you might even enjoy your last year in high school! 

Does this help you? Let us know in the comments below!



Browse Successful Application Files

lamborghinibea…
USC ‘19


Accepted to UC Davis, UCLA, UCSD, USC, Emory, UMich, UNC, Pepperdine

Although very hardworking, I love to socialize with friends and make time to just relax. Also, I've always been interested in cars and working in the business aspect of the automotive industry.
yujin2023
Brown ‘23


Accepted to Brown, Amherst, Duke, Emory, Santa Clara, USC, Pacific, Vanderbilt, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, UC Davis, UC Irvine

Nature lover, STEM nerd. Will likely be late because of who I am as a person.
ssp2020
MIT ‘20


Accepted to MIT, UMich, Rutgers, Cornell, Rice, JHU

computer science / design / music / film
Ves_Nanov
Dartmouth ‘20


Accepted to Dartmouth, Vassar, Kenyon, UVA

I am an incoming freshman from Bulgaria. I have spent one year as an exchange student in Chicago and look forward to returning to the States this fall.

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