Classes have begun once again, marking the close of my final summer as a high school student. Summer always seems to go by too quickly; though looking back, I have to admit that I did have a fairly productive break. In a nutshell, I visited colleges, volunteered at a local refugee resettlement program, and ended up with some time to relax. Essentially, most of the things I planned to do back in June, I did indeed complete — and most of them were done before the beginning of August. So, then, what did I do for the rest of the time?
One fine summer morning, suddenly feeling more productive than usual, I sat down at my computer and fired up a certain website. Which website? www.commonapp.org. And as that webpage loaded, the real application process began for me.
Ah, the Common Application. Nearly all of us will have to enter our information into it at some point, simply because of the sheer number of member colleges — and certainly it makes things easier. Filling out all the web forms is naturally a bit time-consuming — not as much as it would be filling out paper forms, of course, but still — so it’s best to just get that out of the way early. That applies to any application process, pretty much, Get the paperwork out of the way early, before things get down to the wire with deadlines.
In any case, I finished the Common Application pretty quickly. And then I ran into the biggest stumbling block there is: the essays. I’ll certainly return to that topic in the future, but for now, let me just say that on that first day, I looked over the choices for prompts, chose the one I thought would fit me most, jotted down a few notes on what I might write, and promptly left it for another day.
Not that procrastination is a good thing. Indeed, I kept up a fairly consistent schedule with writing, to the point that now I’m done with about half the work that I need to do. Of course, now that school has begun, it’ll be harder to actually get the time to finish, but it’s something that needs to be done and getting an early head start has really helped. Juniors might consider getting a jump-start on essays.
So what does it mean if you haven’t quite gotten around to starting on your applications yet? Well, certainly it’s not the end of the world; there’s still a comfortable space between now and October or November, not to mention December 31, when many applications are due. But you’ll definitely want to make good use of that time — more than anything, good essays take time to write — time to think of ideas, time to write them out, and time to review and get second opinions. And above all, follow that timeless advice: don’t panic. Not least because the less time you spend worrying about how much work there is, the more time you’ll have to get it done.