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Ten tips for the college application process

Tips for the application process

Start early - The months of your senior year can be deceiving...first it's labor day, then homecoming, then Thanksgiving and Christmas, and before you know it, January rolls in along with many application, scholarship, and event deadlines. The last thing you need to add to your senior year is stress over college. Your college search and application process should be fun and rewarding!

Visit colleges first to narrow your list - When you visit different colleges, you'll start to figure out what characteristics are important to you - small classes, interactions with professors, international study - and therefore narrow down the number of applications you'll have to complete.

Make copies - Or store copies electronically of everything you send to each college. If you're a list person, create a checklist that you save on your computer or put on the refrigerator.

Note your deadlines - Keep track of each college's or university's application and scholarship deadlines, so you have plenty of time to plan ahead and prepare the necessary materials.

Proofread your essays - Yes, spelling does count! And make sure that you are addressing the correct college or university - you wouldn't want to send your materials to University of America but talk about United College. Recruit a friend, parent, or teacher to read through your essays as well. And then, read it once more.

Know your admissions counselor - That way, when you, your guidance counselor, or your parents have questions about the application process, you'll know exactly who to contact to get your answers.

Be organized for your recommenders - When deciding who to ask, don't be afraid to say "Can you write me a positive recommendation?" When the hard part is over, give your teachers, coaches, employers, and counselors plenty of time and information to write you a great recommendation.

Interview - If it's an option at the colleges to which you're applying, take advantage. Usually, it is a way for you to tell your story in person. It gives a chance for you to explain yourself more thoroughly than the application may allow.

Wait it out - The college application process also includes the financial aid process (which starts January 1 of your senior year). It's important not to rule out schools you've been accepted to based on cost quite yet because of scholarship and loan opportunities.

Don't forget to balance - As we've already mentioned, your senior year is full of things other than college applications. In fact, many of the experiences you'll have in your junior and senior years shape your applications and essays! This whole process will be over before you know it, so enjoy your senior basketball season, sing your heart out in Hello Dolly!, and relax with friends...it's just as important.

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Make the most of your college visit