3 Pronged Approach to Schedule College Applications

Now that many of you are nearing the end of junior year, it is nearly time to think about college applications and how we will begin preparing for the beginning of senior year. It is extremely important to get ahead of college applications and this is why I have a 3-pronged approach to getting ahead before it is time to apply to schools. 

By: Katelyn Pramberger, Political Science and Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University, 2023

Prong 1: College search phase 

Time Frame: End of Your Junior Year 

I would recommend starting your college search, if you have not started it already, at the end of your junior year when you have your final standardized test score and GPA. Naviance is a great tool that many high school students use and I highly recommend using Naviance to check out colleges you are interested in. It has great tools to set your standardized test score, GPA, and intended major. During this time period, I would suggest leisurely looking at colleges and making a general list of schools you are interested in. If you don't have access to a free Naviance account, contact our team and we'll help you build your own college tracking system!

Time Frame: Early Summer Before Your Senior Year

Early in the summer before your senior year is the perfect time to hardcore search for colleges and start cutting down and finalizing your list. This is also a great time to take virtual and, if offered, on-campus tours. By the end of this summer, I highly encourage you to cut down your list to follow my 3:3 Rule: list 3 different types of schools (safeties, targets, and reaches) and within each type of school you should have 3 different colleges you are interested in. This should amount to around 9 schools, give or take a few. 

Prong 2: Common Application and Letters of Recommendation

Time Frame: Late Summer Before Your Senior Year

The Common Application typically opens on August 1st. For the Common Application you will need your standardized test scores, official transcripts letters of recommendation, and personal college essay. I recommend that in the late summer, you create a login, begin filling in your college application, and start brainstorming your personal essay. The prompt list is typically the same each year and you will be able to see them in your common application account. 

Time Frame: Early Senior Year

At the beginning of senior year, I recommend you start writing drafts of your personal essay and ask 2-3 teachers for letters of recommendation. I would suggest asking your sophomore and junior year teachers: they were your most recent teachers. At this time, you should have your finalized list of colleges, most of your common application filled out, and a few drafts of your personal essay.

Prong 3: Supplements and Application Deadlines

Time Frame: Early Senior Year

Once you have your finalized college list, I recommend that you create a spreadsheet with the deadlines for each school you plan on applying to. It is important to note that *deadlines for Early Action, Early Decision, and Regular Decision vary for each school so you will need to look at each school you are applying to and their individual deadlines for early decision, early action, and regular decision.*


Early Decision: Anytime between November 1-15

Early Action: Anytime between November 1-December 1

Regular Decision: Anytime between January 1-15

After listing out these deadlines, you should choose which school you want to apply for early decision, or legally bound to go to. Usually this is your top/dream school. You then have to choose which schools you want to apply early action and regular decision for. Some schools do not offer early action but many offer this and I would recommend applying early action because then you will know your application results early and adjust your applications accordingly.

Time frame: Early-Mid Senior Year

After looking at these deadlines for each individual school and choosing how you would like to apply to each school, I recommend you to look at each school and how many supplements, or additional pieces of writing they require. Put the prompt for each supplement and number of supplements in a separate document and start writing. All of these should be done at least a week before they are due. This will give you ample time to edit and get second opinions before submitting your applications.

Last: submit those applications! 

This schedule will ensure you are on the right track for your college applications! Next step: submit those applications! Best of luck!


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