When Should I Apply To College?

As the summer before your senior year of high school draws to a close, you’re left with the realization that college is right around the corner. Senior year will be an exciting part of your high school career, but remember: you’ll also need to dedicate time to work on college applications.

College applications will in no way compare to high school assignments; these applications will take serious time and devotion in order to make them worthy to be read by the admissions office of your desired college or university.

In order to relieve you from the immense amount of stress that is slowly building for you as a senior about to graduate, I’ve compiled some advice in regards with when you should apply to college and why it’s important. So if you’re asking yourself, “when should I apply to to college?” Read below!

Apply Early

I would suggest at least brainstorming a list of colleges you want to apply to before your senior year begins. During the spring and summer after your junior year, you should sign up for campus tours to the colleges that interest you in or out of state.

If you tour during the end of your junior year, by the time you are entering your senior year you should have an idea of which colleges you liked and which ones you didn’t after the visit. Make a list of all the colleges you liked and look up how to apply either on their website or by contacting their admissions office.

I think the optimal time to apply to college is within the first two months of your senior year, so by September or October I would have all of your applications turned in. December would still be acceptable, but most colleges have deadlines before Christmas time and the earlier you get them in the sooner you’ll hear back.

Recommendation Letters

Another reason to start your college applications within the first month of your senior year is due to recommendation letters. Several colleges require that you send in 1-2 recommendation letters from teachers or previous employers in addition to the traditional written essay.

In order to be courteous to your teacher or employer, it’s best to let them know at the very beginning of the year so they have time to write you a letter before you want to send your college application in. By asking them early, they can get your letter back to you hopefully in a few weeks and you’ll still be able to turn in your application early on in the fall.

Waiting Process

The main reason I think you should turn in your applications as early and apply to college as possible is because some schools will take longer to get back to you than others. Certain colleges send you a response in a few weeks but others may take several months.

When I applied to the Ohio State University, I sent in my application at the end of August and didn’t hear back until April. Sometimes you’ll have no control over how long their evaluation process takes, so it’s better to just get the applications in sooner rather than later.

Overall Advice

So, when should you apply to college? I say never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Think about your desired colleges in the summer, tour them while you’re out of school, and get your applications started when you begin your senior year in August. This way, if you need recommendation letters you still have time to get the application in before Thanksgiving rolls around.

You’re going to have so much going on your senior year. So, I recommend working hard and finishing all your applications as soon as possible so you can focus on your other high school classes and extracurricular activities.

The hardest part after applying to colleges is the waiting period. As soon as you drop that freshly completed application in the mail, I guarantee that you’ll be anxiously checking that same mail box every day until you get a reply.

If you’re excited about going to college, be proactive and turn in your applications early. If you wait until the day before the college’s deadline, you’re more likely to make a bad impression with the admissions office or who knows; your application could get lost in the mail and not even make it there on time. So, time is of the essence! Apply to college early!

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Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk

Stephanie Vlk is a junior at the University of Dayton pursuing a degree in communication with a concentration in electronic media as well as a minor in English. While not in class, Stephanie is involved in a service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and a honors professional fraternity, Phi Beta Chi. Outside of academic and community activities, she enjoys dancing hip hop, reading, spending time with friends, and doing yoga.