College Survival 105: College Application Strategy and Timeline

October 29, 2015

As we approach the final months of the college application process, many students are lost and find themselves struggling to figure out what to do next. It’s not an easy task - with so many jobs to accomplish, it’s hard to find the right strategy. So what’s the best way to tackle your to-do list? We asked our Admits, “What was your college application strategy? What was the timeline?”, and they answered:

amcquillen: “I started as soon as the applications were up. First I thought about what was important to me and what set me apart from the other applicants. I wrote a very rough draft. That took about a whole month! After that, I basically set up monthly goal. A lot of editing, revising, researching, and asking people questions. I wanted everything roughly done by December so that my teachers could refer to my essays when writing my recommendation letters.”

jaclynh: “In late August or early September, I started making a list of the schools that I was going to apply to. I decided how far away I wanted to go and then narrowed down the list of schools that were within that radius. By the end of September, I had submitted all of my SATs, ACTs, and Common Apps. Then, throughout October, I worked on the applications that had supplemental essays. I tried to complete a college’s application (or two!) every weekend. By the end of October, when the applications were due, I had them all done and was ready to go. Creating a schedule and sticking to it is the best way to approach the process.”

mfinger: “My strategy was to only apply to schools that I would truly love to attend. I didn’t want to apply 15 schools, get 6 or so acceptances, and then end up feeling forced to attend one or the other because of financial reasons. I began visiting colleges at the beginning of junior year and visited 16 schools. Based on my research and how I felt after each college visit, I decided that there were only 3 of them that I would want to apply to and I did! I was accepted Early Action to my safety school, and then got denied to one and accepted to one Regular Decision.”

 

 

SChai: “The timeline of my college application process was relatively long and spread out. I applied early, so I finished my Common Application essay by the end of October. Looking back, even though applying early was a pretty stressful process, I found it really helpful because I only had to work on my supplements for the rest of the college application process. If I were to give you a piece of advice, it would be to space out each of your applications. I had seven schools with deadlines within a week of each other, so I ended up scrambling to write a bunch of essays back to back at the end of December. Trust me, it’s not fun to spend all of your winter break working on college applications, so try to get some of those essays done well before the deadline if you can.”

 

 

nrchhabra: “The college application process is all about planning ahead. I know a lot of people, including myself, who were caught off guard and missed application deadlines. It would be a good idea to start thinking about potential colleges towards the end of Sophomore year of high school, and before entering Junior year one should know their target colleges. Then slowly one should note down the deadlines and begin to fill out applications.”

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Browse Successful Application Files

bwill
Williams ‘20


Accepted to Williams, Claremont (CMC), Amherst, Swarthmore, Pitzer, Northwestern, Tufts, WashU, Grinnell, Rice, Emory, LMU

I’m an Econ & Bio major (and transfer) passionate about social justice, STEM, and design. I’ve learned a lot after going through this hectic process twice, and I’m excited to help!
vicamit
Vanderbilt ‘20


Accepted to Florida, Vanderbilt, Duke, Emory, UPenn, Miami, Northeastern, UVA, UNC, Georgetown, Rice

Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholar at Vanderbilt and art enthusiast
youngch
Vanderbilt ‘18


Accepted to Baruch, Binghamton, Brooklyn College, Hunter, Macaulay Honors, Duke, JHU, Northwestern, UPenn, Brown, Cornell, SUNY Buffalo, Rice, Vanderbilt, NYU, Columbia

I grew up in New York City, Bronx and Brooklyn to be exact. I went to pretty big public schools and once you find a supportive yet motivating group of friends, teachers, advisors, and counselors to complement your family, life becomes a whole lot better!
ashleyzo
USC ‘20


Accepted to USC, Dartmouth, Emory, UMich, Rochester, Lehigh, Miami, Alabama, Ole Miss

Hi! I'm a college freshman who was accepted to some of the best universities in the country (most likely due to my essays). Feel free to ask any questions!

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