This upcoming month is perhaps the most stressful month for students applying to college. December is the time of great holiday cheer, cozy sweaters and the last four weeks a student can perfect his or her college applications. Most Common App schools have the deadline set to January first or second, and many high schools will distribute their finals exams about one to two weeks away from these deadlines. I have personally felt a lot of anxiety about the upcoming month so here are some of the things I will be doing in order to help me stay organized and on top of my school work as well as my college applications:
Start Supps Now
Many Common App schools will have supplementary questions that will require another essay or two. In fact, there are some schools that will ask for four or more extra responses. It’s important to know which schools are asking for what – that way you can plan what you need to write. There are many occasions in which two or more schools will have overlapping questions, so you will be able to use one response multiple times. But the most common question schools will ask is why you are applying there, and that takes a lot of research. Make sure that you have a final list of all your schools and try to space them out evenly throughout the month. For instance, I am applying to ten schools on the Common App so I will try to write complete supps for three (or four) schools per week and on the last week I will revise them. This will help me stay calm and know that I have dedicated time for each and every school.
Know your finals
As a senior, finals can get pushed to the back of your mind, but it’s crucial to make them one of your priorities. Make sure you know which classes will have finals and decide which ones will in the end affect your letter grade. If there is a class that you are particularly strong in and the final will not have an impact on your final grade then do not dedicate more than two hours to study. Instead, focus your energies on classes that are borderline. Colleges do look at your senior semester grades so make sure to finish strong! I know that I am going to be getting three final exams and one final essay so I have distributed all my studying hours in the month of december according to how strong I am in each of the subjects. I have allotted enough time for preliminary review, practice testing and final studying; giving me peace of mind knowing that I will have enough time to prepare.
Finish the Common App essay as soon as possible
One of the things I am most grateful for is that my Common App essay is completed. I spent my summer writing it and now I have the time to focus on my school work and my supps. If you are not done or have not started it yet, make sure that you begin as soon as you are done reading this blog post! Not only is it the longest essay, it is the only essay that each and every one of your schools will read. Make sure that it is a piece you would submit to your dream school and not only to a target or safety school, because many students forget that it does go everywhere. Also, if you end up cramming a couple days before the deadline, this essay will not be your best work. It’s one of your only chances to express yourself to universities and let them see who you really are, so do not take it for granted. Have it done at least two to three weeks prior to the deadline so that you have time to go over it with many trusted friends and family members and make necessary edits.
December is a stressful month for high school seniors, but with a bit of planning, you’ll survive it – and maybe even enjoy the holiday season!
This is a guest post by Noa Livneh, a high school senior in the San Francisco Bay Area.