Timeline Tips for College Bound High School Juniors

Although busy schedules abound for high school juniors, adhering to a timeline can help diffuse both parental and teen anxiety around college planning. Being better informed and equipped will enable you to successfully negotiate the application process and avoid unnecessary stress associated with missed and unexpected requirements and deadlines.

Below is a list of important dates and helpful hints to keep on track:

  • Winter: The Common Application Announces Essay Prompts

As of January 12, the Common Application has announced that the prompts for this year will be the same as last year’s. Though no action needs to be taken immediately, perusing the prompts and setting them asside is a start. Selecting one is typically an iterative process. The better you know the choices and the closer you come to selecting a topic and writing the essay, the clearer it will become which prompt you are actually addressing.

  • Spring of Junior Year:  Request Letters of Recommendation
  • Summer for Rising Seniors: Draft Your Essay

In addition to work and vacation plans, allot time for writing -- it will pay dividends. Having time to think, write and rewrite without a time crunch, will allow you to be more thoughtful and reflective. Getting started early will also allow you to avoid common pitfalls such as omissions, inaccuracies and bad technique.

  • August 1: The Common Application Opens

The Common Application has five tabs to work with. You will spend most of your time, at least initially, working on the Common Application tab completing each of its six parts: profile, family, education, testing, activities, and writing. Many of these questions are easy to answer, while others may require consulting with your parent(s). Much of this section will feel like busy work, except for the essay, but should be done with care and precision.

When prepared to start submitting specific college applications, you will click on the College Search tab, find the school, and add it to your list. Generally, there are two categories possible for each school: Questions and Writing Requirements. Supplemental essays are typically found under the Writing Requirements tab, but in some cases, are found in the Questions area. Make sure to check.

Typical Application Deadlines

  • November 1 or 15: Early Decision I applications are due
  • January 1 or 15: Early Decision II & Regular decision applications are due
  • May 1: Deadline to commit for regular decision applicants

Though the college application process may seem daunting, using these step-by-step guidelines can help students not only survive, but also thrive. For more detailed information, visit www.writeaheadcollege.com.

Photo Caption: Liz Waltzman, Founder/President of Write Ahead College, assists a student with his college essay. Waltzman is a Common Application Consultant and Essay Expert and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via her website https://writeaheadcollege.com/.


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