It’s August, which means the return of two things: school, and the opening of the Common Application.

Many colleges across the country use the Common Application as a way to make the application process as smooth and concise as possible for students. While this is a big help, there is another thing that you can do in order to make the process even easier for yourself- starting your application early, and giving yourself the greatest amount of time to work on it.

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The Race Against the Clock

It is no secret that it is time consuming to fill out college applications. The process can become even more stressful when paired with school work, and can put strains on your friendships and grades, in which the latter are extremely important during your senior year of high school.

The only way that you can combat the inevitable pressure during this time of year is to begin your application as soon as you possibly can before things start to get busy at school. The procrastination of this important process will only lead to unneeded anxiety, and you will miss out on opportunities that will help better your applications.

Here are a few advantages of starting your applications early and tips on how to make them the best that they can be.

Talking to Your Counselor

One of the best things about starting the application process is that you are never alone, even if you start ahead of everyone else. Your counselor will be there for you every step of the way, and can advise you and answer any questions you have.

If you aren’t in school yet, don’t be afraid to send your counselor an email, and if you have already started school, make it a point to set up an appointment with them in the near future. They will be happy to assist you in any way they can, whether it be for helping you choose your shortlist of colleges and universities, helping you send out the transcripts and test scores necessary for your applications, or assisting you in choosing which activities would best showcase your positive qualities on your Activities List. Being ahead of the game can only help you as counselors will not be completely swamped with appointments yet; due to this, they can give you the best possible advice about making decisions concerning your future.

Getting Teacher Recommendations

For some students, approaching teachers for recommendations is terrifying and anxiety-inducing, while others already know which teachers they want to write theirs and can easily inquire about them. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, you need to make sure that you ask your teachers to write your recommendations as soon as possible.

Deciding which teachers will write your recommendations can be difficult, so giving yourself a lot of time to figure out which ones would be the best for you is a huge plus. When you work the list out early, you can ask them before others start crowding them with requests. By doing this, you save both yourself and your teachers a lot of stress, and give them a lot of time to write the best recommendation they can without the strain of a deadline hovering above their heads.

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Writing Your Essays

Writing the essays for your applications is possibly the most stressful part of the application process due to tricky, open-ended prompts and word counts that limit your creativity. This part only gets worse if you attempt to write these essays while you are in school, for homework and extra-curriculars can get in the way- you don’t want to have to focus on your college essay while writing a research paper for your English class at the same time.

If you are not in school, you are currently in the best-case scenario. Even though you are probably trying to embrace your last days of summer vacation, take out some time to at least look at all of the prompts for the colleges you are applying to and brainstorm what you will write; it would be even better if you write rough drafts for all of them. If you are already in school, then you will have to manage your time wisely. When you have breaks, take the time to jot down ideas for your essays and write blurbs that will fit into them. After school and on the weekends, put your mind to writing drafts based on your ideas, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted by others so that you can write as best as you can.

A big advantage to starting your essays early is that you give people a lot of time to read and edit them. Not only can you ask friends and family to assist you in making sure your essays are absolutely perfect, but your teachers can also give you more in-depth advice so that you can express yourself clearly through your writing. Getting help editing is a valuable opportunity that you cannot pass up, so put a pencil to paper and start!

Hopefully, throughout this article, you have realized that starting your Common Application early can only be advantageous for you and the people who are willing to assist you in making sure you impress the colleges you are applying to. Avoid all possible stress and begin now—you’ll be thankful when application deadlines come rolling around!


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