Navigating the College Application Process 101

Tips and Tricks for Staying Organized

The end of junior year and the beginning of senior year can be a demanding time for many students all over the nation. Whether they’re pondering the career path that they want to pursue or stressing over final grades and exams, these students are preparing to take the next step into the real world. Even if you are an underclassman, knowing what to expect when preparing for college applications can be valuable information! Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming— where do you even start? Here are some very basic tips compiled in one place to kick start your college admissions journey. 

With any long process, what matters most is that you are working hard towards taking the first step, and gradually making progress.

Getting Your Information Organized

While some information, like your GPA or standardized test scores, are automatically stored online, it is important that you are able to keep track of all things you have done over your high school career. Activities, such as sports, extracurriculars, and fundraisers are all valuable items to note in your eventual senior application sheet, and eventually your college application. Even if you have not participated in many activities before, it is certainly not too late to do something when you have the chance in junior or senior year. 


Additionally, when you are actually searching for colleges, it can be very helpful to create a list of your chosen schools’ requirements, supplemental materials, and application due dates. As part of the list, you can also rank these colleges into their respective “safety,” “match,” and “reach” schools to make it easier for you to eliminate some from your list as admissions approach. Keep in mind that it is always more beneficial for something to be done early than to wait until a deadline is almost approaching.


College Visits

It is one thing to see a campus through photos online, and another to actually be at the college. Either scheduling self-guided tours or group tours of varying kinds of campuses can help you learn what kind of campus you prefer, whether that be remote or urban, small or large, or studious or lively. Group tours provide ample opportunities to ask the guide valuable questions about the school and its programs, while self-guided tours allow you to go at your own pace (and certain schools have QR codes you can scan to learn more about their different buildings and facilities).


Visiting With Counselors

One of the most valuable resources in the college application process in our school is our dedicated guidance department. As well as helping students stay on task, they can also provide insight on what colleges may be looking for in prospective students. Especially if you are not yet sure about what direction you want your future to take, guidance counselors can provide both good advice and reassurance in your decisions. Combined with the school’s Naviance page, it is hard to go wrong with the resources the school provides.


Final Thoughts

However nerve-wracking the college admissions journey is for you, it is still important to realize that many of your classmates are dealing with the same type of stress. With any long process, what matters most is that you are working hard towards taking the first step, and gradually making progress. Finally, even if you are not positive you have made the best decision now, rest assured that you will have many more years ahead to make your own decisions and reach the goals you want.