Conquering College Applications: How to Make the College Application Process Easier

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Junior Jada Mitchell fills out her basic information to create an account on the CommonApp website. “Not knowing the answers to all the questions [is my biggest worry],” said Mitchell. She plans on applying to University of Detroit Mercy and Finlandia University to study Dentistry. Photo Credit / Sacha Williams

You take a deep breath, enter your user information and click the signup button. You just created your CommonApp account that is necessary for applying to many colleges. This is the first step in the long, difficult process of being accepted into your dream college.

“Due dates [are the scariest thing about college applications], worrying about not getting everything in time and dealing with KAMSC testing and research. Trying to manage my job and increase my chances to get into a school and trying to keep track of everything [is very difficult],” said senior Ben Byrd.

For many juniors, the college application process can be a daunting task looming in the near future. Some colleges require lengthy essays and impressive letters of recommendation.  

“I would probably tell myself to do the applications early and to try to apply to as many scholarships as I can because that’s free money. I’ll regret it down the road if I couldn’t meet the deadline because I was too lazy. Five hundred dollars is not a lot, but it all adds up,” said senior Alex Lutz.

Although this task seems overwhelming, but if you follow a step-by-step checklist, you will be more likely to succeed.

Junior Year:

  • Take challenging classes that would appeal to admissions departments
  • Research colleges you are interested in and which colleges offer the major you want to pursue
  • Take the SAT or ACT
  • Take AP classes if possible to receive valuable college credit
  • Continue participating in any sports or extracurriculars you do and seek out a leadership position
  • Consider getting a part time job that would work with your schedule
  • Make strong connections with teachers and counselors

June-July After Junior Year:

  • Make a list of when colleges release their application and what they require
  • Finalize which colleges you want to apply to
  • Start writing application essays
  • Decide on which teachers you will ask for recommendations
  • Make a resume

August After Junior Year:

  • Start applications
  • Email teachers for recommendations (include your resume)
  • Email counselor for a recommendation (include your resume)
  • Continue writing and editing application essays
  • Research scholarships you are eligible for and make a list of due dates and requirements
  • Find raffle scholarships that only require basic information

Fall of Senior Year:

  • Finish applications and essays
  • Check on teachers for recommendations
  • Send in applications that are due early
  • Work on scholarship applications
  • Send in final SAT or ACT scores

Winter of Senior Year:

  • Make sure you have all required materials sent into colleges
  • Make sure counselor and teacher recommendations are sent in
  • Finalize applications and send in application fee for Regular Decision applications
  • Work on scholarship applications
  • Complete FAFSA

Spring of Senior Year:

  • Make a pro/con list for each college you applied to
  • Decide on which college you think will be the best choice
  • Follow social media accounts associated with the college you choose
  • Look for a roommate either on social media or ask someone you know
  • Research meal plans and dorm halls at your college
  • Send in deposit
  • Sign housing contract

End of Senior Year:

  • Send in final transcript
  • Sign Kalamazoo Promise Form 2 to confirm the school you are attending (if going in state)
  • Make sure you have your dorm and orientation required forms sent in
  • Enjoy your last days of high school!

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