Ready Set Apply….wait a minute- what type of application does the college or university require? During the fall of senior year, students are faced with the time-consuming task of completing their college applications. Warning To All Parents; your child’s mood most likely will continually bounce from eager worker bees to anxious and overwhelmed as they progress over the next few months. How can these feelings of anxiety be avoided? The most effective way is: conducting research about the individual applications before beginning the work.

The first step in the research of college applications is determining the type of application the college or university requires. Does the school use the Common Application? Do they have an application that is specific for just their school? Another type of application may be one that encompasses multiple schools for a statewide system. For example, the University of California (typically referred to the UC’s), uses one application for all nine campuses in the system and state. Texas is another state that has a similar statewide application.

Once you have determined the type of application required, you may now get down to work. Things to consider: application due date, transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, supplemental questions.  These five areas will give you the opportunity to create a task list and calendar for the specific components of the application and school requirements. You may then begin to communicate with teachers and your counselor to request letters of recommendation, order your transcripts and most importantly open up the dialogue on areas where you’ll need some extra help and support.

Early Decision and Early Action admissions may be an option (depending on the school) a student considers when applying in the fall. It’s important to understand the differences between the two before deciding if you would like to take one of these options. Early Decision is binding; meaning you must attend that college/university if offered admissions. Early Action is non-binding which gives the student greater flexibility when making their final decision from multiple admissions offers. Both ED and EA applications are due and submitted in November. However, ED announces admissions offers in December while EA announces after the New Year. This could have a potential impact on financial aid offers and packages because of the timing of the admission announcement. If you’re considering ED or EA, please consider the differences and make the best decision for you.

As you progress through each application remember to plan ahead, set a schedule, avoid procrastination, communicate (with teachers, registrar, counselor), and don’t be afraid to ask for help. What may start out as a daunting task will be effectively managed by creating and following a plan that leads to successful completion.