Completing the SATs is just the beginning of the journey to high school graduation. If you’re wondering when to apply for college, it’s never too early to start planning. College admissions open one year before fall semester so incoming high school seniors should start working on their applications over the summer and into the fall of their senior year. Applications require more than just a couple of essays. To truly prepare for college applications, research should start well in advance of filling out an application.

Get Started Now

It’s never too early to start researching college. Where you attain your degree can have a huge impact on future career and earnings. Even as early as their freshman year of high school, students who research their future alma mater have a better chance of being accepted to their first choice schools by understanding what their first choice school looks for in their freshman class.

Most experts recommend applying to between five and eight colleges. This allows students to apply to some “reach” colleges and some they are sure to be accepted. Early admission can negate this piece of advice but it’s always better to have options. Have a list of colleges that range from challenging to easy to get accepted into.

Apply After Visiting

If you are planning on studying at a college that has a physical campus, don’t rely solely on school literature when making your decision to apply to a college. While a school may look great on paper, a quick visit can determine whether you feel at ease in and around the school. College is a time to make future business relationships and friendships. It’s home for four years so picking a campus that feels comfortable and safe is important. Plan trips prior to your senior year to visit colleges you’re interested in applying. Try to avoid applying to schools sight unseen.

Get Accepted Sooner

If your heart is set on a specific college, consider applying for early admission. Many colleges offer a chance at early admission for students who are willing to forgo other offers to attend to their institution. Applying allows you to focus on the application for your first choice school without being distracted by other applications. Also, early admission usually has a higher acceptance rate over regular enrollment. For students with a dream school, early admission is a must.

Each university has different early admission deadlines and rules. The college website should outline the deadlines but get started on the application as soon as possible. While your friends are still applying to schools, you will get to enjoy your senior year safe in the knowledge of where you’re going come fall.

Research Application Deadlines

Each school has its own deadline. Applications are often due right before the winter holidays with acceptance coming around April. Early and rolling admissions are accepted earlier with similarly early acceptance. Go to the college’s website for specific due dates. Regardless of how early you submit an application for general admission, most students do not hear back until April so don’t be discouraged if you do not get accepted immediately.

As in most of life, getting started early is key. Give yourself plenty of time to research, craft excellent applications, and get positive references. Rushing the application process will just result in shoddy work and rejection.

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