7 Steps to Ensure You Stay on Top of the College App Process 

Deadlines are crucial in the world of college applications. Meeting them requires some careful planning and a structured schedule, which is why CollegeVine has outlined some crucial stages of the application process for you:


  1. The first step is to create your list of schools to apply to. Make sure you know each school’s early and regular decision period application deadlines, and decide on which one(s) you will be applying to EA/ED and which RD. It is a good idea to create a calendar of deadlines that you can clearly track.
  1. Once you have your list of schools, you should aggregate all of your school prompts. Take note of which prompts are similar and overlap in theme, and see which essays can and will be reused across most of your applications. These essays are the ones you want to put the most time into polishing and getting right.
  1. After you have your school deadlines and prompts in order, it is time to start writing. The hardest part of getting an essay started is coming up with a quality, high-level idea. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to brainstorm ideas, to scrap ideas that don’t quite translate from theory to practice, to brainstorm some more, and of course to write, write, write. You might want to keep a notepad or note-taking app with you at all times during this stage so that you can write down essay ideas whenever you are struck by inspiration. The more ideas you initially generate, the more options you will have – in the end, you will choose the one that works best. Everyone goes through a unique writing process to reach their final product, but once you are ultimately satisfied with your work, it’s time to submit your early applications.
  1. After having submitted applications to your early schools, you might want to consider submitting your application to your main safety school. This application, if you have chosen an appropriate safety school, should not take too much of your time.
  1. If you are applying to UC schools, you will already know that their application deadline occurs not too long after most EA/ED schools’ deadlines and ends before the usual RD pool deadline. These are the essays you will want to work on and submit next.
  1. After you have submitted all of the above, you might be tempted to relax and wait to hear back from your early admissions results before writing any RD essays. Don’t do this. While your momentum is still strong, you need to keep writing for your regular decision schools, working on your essays in order of your preference and desire to attend said schools. This strategy is advantageous regardless of your early round outcome: If you do not get into your early school(s), you will already have more applications ready for submission and will not allow your disappointment to hinder the caliber of your subsequent applications. Similarly, if you are accepted to an EA or REA school, you will have a head start on applying to only the schools you would consider attending over your early acceptance. For this reason, remember to write in order of descending school preference.

With this schedule in hand, much of the stress of writing your college applications should be alleviated. Best of luck and check out some of our other blog posts for essay help!