Beating the crowd: When is the best time to apply?

Photo credit: Philo Nordlund

Generally, the earlier you start the better. It always takes more time to do things than you think, and everyone will put things off until the last minute. If you start everything early, you'll have plenty of time to prepare your best application.


The summer before your senior year is a great time to start planning your application strategy. Most colleges will have their applications for the fall semester available the summer of the year before, so check their websites.


You want to give your counselor extra time to send your transcripts and the people writing your recommendations time to prepare a quality letter. You don't have to contact your counselor or teachers during the summer, but it's a good idea to at least look at the applications and plan your time.

Early decision: If you're applying early decision, pay special attention to the deadlines because they will be a lot earlier than regular admission.


Rolling admissions: If the school has rolling admissions, submit your application as soon as possible. Colleges with rolling admissions basically admit people on a first come, first serve basis. So even if you submit all your materials by the deadline, all the slots could have been filled.

Start early, but don't rush your application. If you have everything ready by the end of September but your essay, don't rush it. Even If it takes you a month to write your essay you should have plenty of time.


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