If you're a high school senior, you're probably under a lot of pressure right about now. With the academic year in full swing, your counselors, teachers and parents are likely on your case about what you're going to do after graduation.
If college is your preferred path, it's easy to get stressed out. Juggling application deadlines, SAT exam dates, Advanced Placement score reports, essay critiques and more can be tricky. But we're here to help. Here's a basic schedule for you to follow as you apply for college:
As soon as possible...
... decide whether you're going to apply for early decision, under which you send in an application to your top-choice school months early and must attend if you're accepted, or early action, a nonbinding version of the early application. Ask your counselor if either of these options is for you. If so, you'll need to speed up your application process.
... make a list of prospective schools and their deadlines, according to About Education. The majority of regular decision college application deadlines fall on or around Jan. 1, so that's the date the below schedule is working toward. But you should definitely check to see what the individual due dates are for the colleges you're looking at.
... get together any college application materials you think you might need, according to Peterson's. Ask your teachers for letters of recommendation. Request your transcripts, and have your standardized test score reports sent to the schools you're considering.
... register for your final attempts at the SAT and/or ACT. Usually the last test date that can be used for your college application occurs in December of your senior year. Registration closes about a month before each exam session, so you want to get on the list ASAP.
... narrow your list of schools. How many colleges you apply to is a personal choice, though USA Today College reports students should submit applications to between six and eight schools.
... start your applications. Now that you have your goals cut out for you, sit down and get cracking. The College Board recommends making a folder for every school with a checklist and materials so you don't lose any important documents or forget to complete the application.
... revise your applications. U.S. News and World Report says it's a good idea for you to ask a teacher or other adult to check over your essays and give you constructive criticism. But be careful they don't rewrite them.
... submit your applications. Right before you hit "send," proofread the whole thing one more time, according to College Xpress. Make sure you get a confirmation email that your application has been received. Then breathe — you did it.