There is perhaps nothing more terrifying to high school students than the prospect of filling out mountains of electronic paperwork and sharing something interesting about themselves in 650 words or less. Our number one, and two, pieces of advice for tackling this challenge are to start early and stay organized.
We recommend beginning essays and applications no later than the summer before senior year begins. Because the Common Application releases essay prompts well before September, students can begin brainstorming topics and drafting essays in July, leaving them plenty of time to perfect their writing over the following weeks and months. The Common Application itself opens around August 1 each year, and we encourage all students to complete the profile portion as fully as possible before school begins, especially if they plan to apply Early Action or Early Decision. We also help students begin to tackle applications for students that do not use the Common Application, such as those in the University of California system and other state universities. Remaining time will be spent on supplemental essays, financial aid documents, and preliminary scholarship searches if necessary. Our goal is to have the bulk of application materials completed by the end of October or November even for schools that students will be applying to via the Regular Decision admission plan. There is nothing worse than leaving holiday parties early because you never finished your college essays.
To help students stay organized, our instructors utilize shared documents, spreadsheets and calendars. Parents are welcome to be included as well, allowing them to stay informed and updated without needing to constantly check in with their students themselves.