52 Weeks to College: Week 35

You did it! You're ready to finalize your first set of essays!
August 31, 2021

Hello end of summer!  Everything is accelerating and intensifying as you go back to school, and if you’ve been following our week-by-week plan, you are well underway with your college applications. You are ready to finalize your first essays, revise your second set, 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 52 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.



1. Finalize your first essays. You drafted these in Week 33, revised them in Week 34, and can now finalize them. This week’s tips and tricks will help you get them letter perfect.

2. Revise your second set of essays. You drafted them last week. See Week 34 for Tips and Tricks when it comes to revising.

3. Start your third set of essays. By this point, you are an old hand at drafting, having already drafted 2-6 essays. Consult your Writing Map (see Week 31) and get to work on your third set! Remember to leave the Why College X and Why Major X essays for another couple of weeks – in Week 10 we’ll explain how to use a template to make it easier to handle them.

4. Continue working on supplementary materials, such as portfolios, audition materials, research abstracts, and the like if you will be submitting them. Your goal should be to have these finished in the next couple of weeks. See our advice about these materials in Week 30 and these blog posts on arts supplements and academic work samples.

5. Check the websites of colleges on your list to see what they are planning in terms of fall events for prospective students. Given the pandemic, it is unlikely that they will be doing their usual rounds to high schools, but they may be organizing specific virtual events for students from your school or your area. See our Tips and Tricks in Week 31 for why we recommend that you make it a priority to attend these events.

6. Add your scholarship essays to your Writing Map and choose topics. By now, you have been researching scholarships for several weeks and have hopefully identified a few that are good matches for you. Add the deadlines to your calendar and review the applications for these scholarships and see what essays are required. Add them to your Writing Map and choose topics. Refer back to Week 32 for tips on choosing topics.


1. Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.

2. Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year


1. Smooth out the transitions. The mark of a great essay is that it moves from idea to idea in an almost effortless way. A good way to check if your essay has this type of flow is to read your essay out loud. You’ll hear missed connections or bumpy transitions long before you see them. If you stumble as you read your essay, rework your transitions until you’ve got them right.

2. Check the word counts. Most essays have a minimum word count and a maximum word count. Use your word processing software to make sure you are within the limits, because online application platforms are very rigid when it comes to enforcing these limits. If you are short on words, you need to go back and develop some additional content. Don’t just add words – add fully developed content that reveals more about you.

3. It isn’t final until it is error-free. Grammar and spelling count! That means you need to scour your essays for these kinds of errors. We suggest that you use the following checklist to proofread for one category of errors at a time:

  • Check paragraph breaks.
  • Check subject-verb agreement.
  • Check verb tenses for shifting tenses or incorrect tenses.
  • Check for pronoun-antecedent clarity and agreement.
  • Check punctuation.
  • Check capitalization.
  • Check spelling.
  • Check and double check until the essay is error-free.

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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 college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

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