We are just past mid-September and everything is accelerating and intensifying, and we hope you are well underway with your college applications by now.
If you’ve been following the 26 Weeks plan, then you are ready to finalize your first application, revise your second, and get started on your third! That puts you in good shape and will keep you from being too stressed out as you start your senior year.
If you haven’t been following the 26 Weeks plan, start now and commit yourself to catching up as quickly as you can. You still have a window of time before the early admission deadlines in early November (if you want to leave that door open), and getting on track with your college applications by then is essential if you want to minimize your stress and maximize your success. You can get caught up with previous posts in the series here.)
It isn’t final until it is error-free.Errors in your application detract from the positive impression you are trying to make. Grammatical and spelling errors reflect badly on your academic abilities. Typographical errors or other errors in completing the application suggest carelessness or indifference, both of which work against you. That’s why you have to proofread your application very, very carefully. For a proofreading checklist and further tips on proofreading, refer to the relevant sections in Inline.
If you have a disciplinary or criminal record, you have to deal with it before you can finalize your college application. While having either sort of record dramatically reduces your chances for admission to a selective college, admissions officers can and do admit applicants with records. But to persuade an admissions officer to admit you despite your record, you are going to have to present a clear and convincing case that you have earned a second chance. That starts with your being honest and forthright in your application about your record. Beyond that, you need to make use of the multiple opportunities you have to make your case (additional essays, supporting documentation, recommendations that address it, and so on). Consult the relevant sections in Inline for our suggestions about how to build your most persuasive case.
Finalize your first application, but don’t submit it unless the college has a rolling admissions program.Rolling admissions programs favor those who submit early and first, so if the application you have completed is going to a college with a rolling admissions program, then by all means submit it. Otherwise, we encourage you to wait a little bit before submitting your first application because you’ll often discover that there are a few things you want to change if you wait until the end of September or early October to submit it.
For example, if you wait for the first few weeks of school to go by, you can update your positions in your various school clubs or activities (often leaders are elected or chosen at the beginning of the school year). Or you can add your new and better test scores. Beyond updating, you might decide that you want to switch out or modify your essays. Your first application is, after all, your first, and you’ll also have more essays to choose from as you work on more applications. So holding on to that first application gives you an opportunity to take advantage of your own subsequent efforts, and that’s to your benefit.
Finalizing your first application is a significant milestone on this journey. So once you’ve done it, take a little bit of time to savor your accomplishment. It will give you energy and motivation to keep going!
Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the book How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.