Tips to Survive the College Application Process

Tips to Survive the College Application Process


If your student is a Junior, you’re in luck – you have plenty of time to get everything ready for applications senior year. But make no mistake, the process starts Junior year! Do not wait! Here are some tips for Junior and Senior students to best plan for college applications and best survive the arduous process.
If your child wants to play sports in college, he or she should reach out to coaches at each school straight away. Don’t wait for them to contact you, but D1 schools have very specific time frames as to when they can contact your student. Reaching out is a great way for a student to show demonstrated interest in the program. Every school has a recruiting page on the college sports website and it’s usually called ‘Recruiting Questionnaire’. Your student will need a short video demonstrating sports skills to upload to this section – it doesn’t need to be very long, nor professionally produced. Get coaches involved & ask for referrals as well.
Demonstrated Interest
Not all, but most schools look at demonstrated interest as they want to make offers of acceptance to kids who are most likely to accept.  It’s very competitive right now and schools are looking to optimize their yield, so they don’t want to waste an acceptance on a student who is just fishing.
Not all schools use demonstrated interest (you may Google each school to see who does and who does not). Examples of demonstrated interest that will go on a student’s application profile.
1.) If they offer virtual webinars/ tours, sign up for newsletters & those ZOOM appointments starting now through the end of Spring. If they offer different types, sign up for those. Most are just tune in and watch (not interactive).
2.) Starting in the Spring, many schools offer interviews. Interviews are typically via Zoom now & allow the student to ask questions about a school to alumni. The alumni may ask questions back to get a read of the student. It’s good to go in prepared and there are many websites online that have a list of questions to prep for. Interactions should be natural & not rehearsed.
3.) Visiting in person and registering for a campus tour is not always possible, but colleges love it if you’ve actually set foot on campus. This also gives your student material for that ‘why Our School’ question that pops up quite often.
4.) Email your local college area rep. Make contact, introduce yourself, and try to ask a question that’s meaningful and not something that can be easily answered from the website info.
Testing was optional last year (20/21) and for many schools (21/22). Kids are able to test this year, but many schools decided to stay test optional. My personal opinion is take the test. It can only help your student if they have a good score. Your child can decide later to NOT report the test if you don’t love the scores.
Ask for letters of recommendation from teachers in before school gets out. If you wait until Fall & college app season, the teachers get busy or in some cases they only submit a FEW for their top students. Asking in advance shows responsibility to the teacher, they can plan in advance and not feel slammed with the start of the school year.
Some colleges ask for up to 3 teacher letters, but for MOST 2 are good, and no matter what, you’ll get one from the school counselor.
Over Summer Before Senior Year – Organize Application Material

Review clubs since Freshman year 

 – List out each club & primary functions/activities of each club –  how many hours/week or month (and years)
 – List any leadership positions & what they entailed –  how many hours/week or month  (and years)
Sports –  how many hours/week or month
– List any significant awards or championships
– List out how many hours/ week or month (and years)
Community Service (Not School Related)
– Does your student have an activity outside of school that is interesting? There is room for this on the application so make sure to write out time spent per week/month, what the activity entailed, and for how many years. Note any significant achievements or awards.
Make an excel sheet with a list of colleges. Add the essay questions for each college on the excel sheet so you can see which ones overlap (so you can save time on writing).
No matter what, they all accept the MAIN common app essay. However, UC schools and other state schools will have their own system for submission outside of Common App and their own unique question. Some years the two align, but last year they did not.
It’s REALLY stressful in the Fall for kids to get all their essays done, sports, and regular homework. If your student can start in the summer, even with rough draft outlines, it will help tremendously.
Last year was VERY hard on California kids in particular. Lots of State & UC schools accepted many out-of-state kids because they needed money. I imagine this happened at other big state schools as well. Covid really hurt the purse strings at many universities, so out-of-state tuition seemed to be the way to make some of that deficit up.
I anticipate this will happen again this year. As a backup research private & OOS schools. Include them in the application process. It’s better to have choices in April 2022 than not! You can always go look at school after acceptance as well.
Use to look at college ‘scores’ and feedback.
Know the difference between Early Action and Early Decision! 
Early Action is when you submit an application in full by an early Date. For some universities it’s Oct. 15, some Nov. 1  – Early ACTION is not binding. Not only will you find out if you have an acceptance EARLY, but you are not required to go. If your student has top grades, many Early Action acceptances also come with NICE scholarship money! Not only is the money nice but it feels good to have options ‘in the bag’ early. You have nothing to lose, lots to gain, but those essays will have to be completed early.
Early DECISION is BINDING. You may only apply to ONE of these and if you get in Early Decision, then you MUST cancel all other regular applications and GO to this university. This is a great choice if there is ONE school that is the absolute top choice. However, you may get out of it if it’s not financially possible. Some kids do this with an IVY or other hard to get into schools like a hail Mary. Your student is free to apply to other non-binding schools and Regular Decision, but again no other Early Decision! If they get in, then they are going for sure. They often accept the largest % of their class this way as they are getting guaranteed money and acceptance right off the bat. STRESS ALERT – Early Action deadlines start in OCTOBER. If you don’t make it, you must then apply during Regular Decision.
After January 1st, applications are IN! This is a great time of relief and also stress as now your student must patiently wait for an answer. Some of the Early Action and Early Decision colleges will roll out in Mid-January thru February. Regular decision is almost always out in March. After acceptance, students have about a month (April) to visit schools and make a final decision.

May 1st Deadline – Decide on a school! Almost all universities have May 1st as the deadline to accept or decline. Once you have been accepted at a university, it’s time to order college sweatshirts and other fun swag. Is your kid playing in a college sport? Shop college varsity jackets at hbcu varsity jackets.

Have any other college tips that you have found were helpful when going through the process? Post and comment below!