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Applying for college is an important milestone. In the academic year of 2020/21, almost 21 million students were enrolled for undergraduate college studies in the United States. Roughly the same number applied the following year. If you are aiming for the academic year of 2023/24 to begin your college studies, you better start planning your application strategy and steps now.
Most college deadlines for undergraduate degrees in the United States fall between November and March. Here is a step-by-step guide on what you need to focus on before, during, and after that timeframe.
This is a pivotal month because that’s when you need to decide on the list of colleges you will be applying to. Make every effort to have a good mix to increase your chances of success. Once you finalize it, start learning about the application process, requirements, and deadlines for each college under consideration.
Find out the terms and conditions for obtaining financial aid. You also need to get clarity on the type of application you must submit. Options include the Common Application, Universal College Application, and Coalition Application. See if there are any private scholarships available.
You are now ready to start completing your applications, including related essays. Complete any applicable tests to get your score reports forwarded to the selected colleges. This is also the right time for registering for your SAT.
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to let your colleges determine your eligibility for federal aid. Start collecting your recommendation letters. This takes time, so you need to start early.
Some colleges may require you to complete the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile to apply for non-federal financial aid. Take any applicable tests.
Contact your high school with a request to forward your official transcript to the selected colleges. Carry on working on your applications bearing in mind that some colleges set their deadlines as early as November.
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Take any applicable tests and have the score reports sent to your colleges. Finalize your applications and submit them! Full applications must include personal data, extracurriculars, award information, essays, transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters.
● January – February
The bulk of the work is done. Submit any remaining applications. You should send your midyear reports to the chosen colleges in case they require them.
● March – April.
Expect the selected colleges to start contacting you with offers of admission and financial aid updates. In many ways, this is crunch time because you need to make your choices. Assess the academic, financial, and social pros and cons of each offer before making up your mind.
This is an important decision, so you might need to consult professionals. Get the top tips from admission officers with a proven track record in managing the application and admission procedures. Follow their advice to minimize the margin of error.
In May, you can begin the loan application procedures. This is also when students take the Advanced Placement examinations (AP exams) with multiple-choice and free-response sections.
College applications take a lot of time, effort, and preparation. Make sure you are familiar with the application rules, procedures, and requirements. Proper planning will help you increase your chances of admission and make your dream come true. Follow the timeline diligently and complete all steps required to pull it off successfully.
Joanne Elliot has years of experience in monitoring developments in the education sector as a coach and a professional writer. In the last decade, she has focused on evaluating the pros and cons of college programs and courses. Joanne’s insights and tips have become particularly popular during and after the pandemic.