You have a lot on your plate this fall, so time management is going to be more important than ever. As always, your first priority should be earning good grades in your core academic classes. (If you missed it, check out my August article in the Hill Rag on this topic.)
If you’ve been working on your applications and essays during the summer, great job! You may be ready to submit applications now. If you’re not there yet, however, don’t panic; colleges are not permitted to have a deadline or give preference to applications received before October 15. With that in mind, create or update your timeline for completing your applications (Common App, Coalition App, etc.), personal statement, and school-specific essays, as well as any other components you may want to include such as a resume or portfolio.
You should also be checking in with your school counselor and other recommenders to make sure they have what they need to prepare their documents for you. In addition, keep an eye on your school’s schedule of visits from college reps and be sure to attend those with staff from schools on your list. Parents and students should also be getting ready now to complete the FAFSA when it opens on October 1, as well as the CSS Profile if your schools require it. The FAFSA is required to access federal student loans, and even if you don’t expect to be eligible for need-based aid, I recommend that all families complete it because some colleges require the form to consider students for merit aid.
Fall may also be your last chance before application deadlines to complete campus tours and interviews. Think strategically and prioritize schools that consider demonstrated interest in the application process; for those where your visit won’t impact your chances of admission, waiting until the winter or spring may make more sense. You can also check the list of participants in the upcoming NACAC fairs to see which of the schools on your list will be attending and meet with them locally if you can’t make it to campus.
Finally, if you’re a DC-area student with senior portraits in your future, my friend Elizabeth at Photopia does beautiful work— check it out (and let her know I sent you!)