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3 Things to Do Before, During & After College Applications

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

College application season is undeniably one of the most stressful times for a high school student.

There seems to be an overwhelming number of things you have to remember before, during and after submitting your applications.

Luckily, there are lots of people who have gone through the process before you who can offer some insight from their experience.

So here it goes.

Before: Build a college list with varying degrees of selectivity.

It can be tempting to only apply to your top choice schools and simply hope for the best.

Don’t do it.

If these are “reach” schools that have average test scores and GPAs a bit higher than yours, there’s a chance you could have bad luck and be left without any other options.

Your best bet is to compile a list of “safe,” “target” and “reach” schools.

Safe schools have high acceptance rates and the average statistics of applicants are lower than yours, so you have a very good chance of getting accepted.

Target schools consist of applicants with stats that match your own, so it’s likely that you’ll get accepted right along with them.

Submitting applications to all three choices can help reduce the likelihood you’ll be left without any options when application season ends.

More Advice on Making the Most of Financial Aid

During: Complete all financial documents.

Filling out forms for financial aid can be one of the more confusing pieces of the college application process.

There are many varieties, including the FAFSA, CSS Profile and, in a lot of cases, additional documents that specific universities require.

They can be lengthy, and some of the language can be tricky to understand.

But they are one of the most important pieces of a complete application, especially if price is a concern for you and your family.

Fortunately, there tends to be a lot of questions that are repeated in each document, and the information can be pretty easy to find if you have quick access to things like tax returns and W2s from previous years.

It’s still important to check your applicant portal to ensure you have submitted the necessary documents so your aid can get to you with as little difficulty as possible.

Always fill out all available financial aid forms, even if you are not sure that you will receive any money.

After: Explore the fun stuff.

Think more about your goals for the upcoming semester. Consider extracurriculars, majors and which schools you would like to go to most.

If you’re not quite sure of these things right away, don’t worry!

You have plenty of time to figure these out, but it can be less stressful to give them a bit of thought ahead of time.

Finally, maintain your grades, appreciate the time you have left with your friends, and give your all to the extracurriculars you’re most passionate about. The final few months of high school will be over before you know it!

Applying to college can be difficult and intimidating at times.

And that is completely understandable.

You’re making big decisions about the rest of your life and watching the hard work you have put in over the years finally pay off as a new chapter begins.

But making sure to do these things can help you get through application season with minimal stress and maximum success.

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Author: Heidi Temple

I am a first-generation student at Princeton University. I am currently planning to concentrate in Molecular Biology there. Then, I plan to go to grad school and eventually pursue a career in medical research.