It’s September, the beginning of a new school year, which also means the college application season has arrived. At SFC, we think of this as the time when we switch from the strategic planning phase to the tactical phase of our engagement. For seniors, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time to carefully budget your time and balance the next few weeks in order to reach your Early Action deadlines in November and implement your overall admissions plan.

The groundwork that has been laid during the strategic part of our engagement is different for every student. Many of you started early in Junior year and have carefully researched college lists, developed criteria, crafted the essay, and begun the Common Application. Other seniors are just getting this process started.

Regardless of your senior’s timeline to this date, the steps to the finish line remain the same during this phase. It’s important to know that the entire SFC team is here to help with this process, but this is the student’s journey and responsibility to complete. We know Senior year is packed with many demands for their time—academics, sports, extracurriculars—but college applications require time and thoughtful energy. The essays and applications shouldn’t be last minute. Colleges admissions readers know when effort has been made and when an application was rushed. A cautionary note to parents: hold your student accountable for this process and ascribe the same level of importance to this process as they have to their high school teachers and class assignments. Don’t do the work for them.

Here’s a practical checklist all seniors and their parents should consider:

  • Teacher recommendation letters have been requested and their delivery to school counselors has been determined
  • Student has connected with their school counselor to provide a list of colleges with their application deadlines and asked if there’s a “brag sheet” to complete
  • The Common Application, Coalition, Apply Texas, CalState Apply, and any college-specific applications are determined and completed by students and parents
  • The personal statement (main essay) section of the Common App is completed
  • The additional 650 words information section in Common App completed if your advisor has recommended using this to enhance your application
  • College-specific supplemental essays are completed
  • Student has determined a standardized test plan with your advisor (SAT/ACT)
  • Student has completed the career and personality assessments and downloaded the PDFs – useful to refer to beyond high school and college.
  • A financial aid strategy has been determined and FAFSA and/or CSS profiles explained
  • Submit early! The deadlines are the last day to submit—determine when applications open and don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

One of the key skills to take into college is the ability to budget one’s time when completing essential tasks, particularly those that will impact the rest of a student’s life.