When Should I Begin my College Applications?

When Should I Begin my College Applications?

The key to completing all of the requirements of college applications with minimal stress is to plan your time well and do one task at a time. At Signet we highly recommend developing a timeline at the start of your junior year to help accomplish this goal. Below are some recommendations for this timeline. Using a timeline to complete tasks during your junior year will free you up to focus on the actual applications during the fall of senior year. If you have any questions about this process, the Signet Admissions team is always here to help!

o  Fall of Junior Year or Earlier: Strengthen Overall Profile and Teacher Relationships

While it’s always important to focus on academics, you should also consider how your whole application will appear to admissions counselors. Try to strengthen your profile throughout high school by engaging in extra-curricular activities, sports, and the arts, especially in leadership roles. You should also start thinking early about which teachers you may want to ask for recommendation letters, and work on building relationships with those teachers.

o  Winter-Spring of Junior Year: Test Prep and Testing

We recommend that you begin to prep for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests (STs) four to six months before taking the test(s). If possible, try to complete all testing by June of the junior year.

o  Winter-Spring of Junior Year: Begin Picking Schools to Apply To

By this time you should be honing in on a list of schools you’re interested in so you can have a nearly complete (or totally complete!) list by the end of junior year. This gives you time to strengthen your resume with aspects that might appeal to your top choices, as well as to develop a stellar essay that’s also targeted to your top schools. We recommend a list of 8-10 schools.

o  Summer After Junior Year: Ask for Recommendation Letters, Begin Working on the Personal Statement

By the end of junior year you should have settled on the teachers you want to ask for recommendation letters—the beginning of the summer is a perfect time to make the first request. At the end of the summer, it’s a good idea to send each teacher a reminder about the letter, a draft of your personal statement, and a thank you note! (Also send a thank-you note at the end of the application process.) The personal statement doesn’t have to be totally complete by the end of the summer, but using June, July, and August to complete a working draft of it will put you that much further ahead during the fall of senior year.

Have questions about applying to college? Signet is here to help!

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Maura Roosevelt

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