How to Win the College Apps Race? Slow and Steady

woman wearing black bra and white tank top raising both hands on top
Madeleine Karydes
Madeleine Karydes

Madeleine attended UC Berkeley and double-majored in English and Media Studies. She is now an integral part of the Empowerly team.

College applications can feel like a stressful, competitive race to some far-off finish line. Instead, we suggest the slow and steady approach to win college apps. What does that mean? Well, let’s break it down into smaller tasks. The more steadily you work on your overall goals the better your final product can be. 

About Our Team

In this post, we’ll feature highlights from our expert counselor Jennifer W! Here’s a little more information about Jennifer: 

Jennifer graduated from Cornell University as a Biology major with a minor in International Relations. Jennifer’s first teaching experience was in college as a rock climbing instructor where she pushed students to conquer their fears and learn safety protocols. Now, she continues to push students to reach their goals and has helped 200+ students gain admission into their top choice universities. Her students have been admitted to Yale, UPenn, Columbia, UC Berkeley and other top schools.

Our central question and focus:

How do students win the college apps race? 

One of the benefits of hiring a college counselor is that you have a built-in system to remind you of what to be working on. Your counselor helps keep track of your progress, to ensure you finish things on time “and submit high quality work,” says Jennifer. If you’re going solo, you have to be extra diligent about mapping your journey. Either way, a logical calendar will set you on the right track. 

So, let’s get started with what you need to know.

students wearing their academic dress
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Why does slow and steady matter?

Well, if you rush through your application process, there are all kinds of things you might miss. Rewriting all your writing supplements; submitting an important component of your application; and “sending your test scores on time!” After all, Jennifer points out, “These are mistakes that won’t happen” if you just give yourself enough time. 

Why do so many students rush instead? 

It’s tempting to feel like you have to be busy all the time in order to keep up. High school students tend to glorify the underslept, overworked, high-achieving condition that leads to disorganization and burnout. When all your friends and peers feel and talk this way, it’s all too easy to let it creep into your habits, too.

Not to mention, it’s often a fault of procrastination! Yes, that plain old problem is back. If you wait too long, suddenly you have a giant pile of work; and probably, Jennifer adds, “thousands of words to write for your college essays.” Even if you do get it done on time, it won’t be your best product. And you tack on a whole lot of stress in the process. If you’re stressed already, check out this article for self-care tips for students from one of our counselors.

What can I do to keep myself on pace for college apps? 

If you know you have time to start slow and steady on your college apps, reach out to Empowerly. We can help you make the absolute most of your time and produce top quality applications. If you decide to do it alone, again, the best thing you can do for yourself is to start early. 

For those of you who are already running behind the clock, take a deep breath. I would also recommend considering working with a counselor to help you “work quickly and efficiently through the most critical tasks, to ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines,” Jennifer underscores.

How can this help me win the race? 

Not only will you retain more information by working at this pace, you also give yourself time to ruminate. Some say the hardest part is getting started. If you take small steps and give yourself time to double-check your work, you will be less stressed, more productive, and gain more from the experience. At Empowerly, we like to emphasize that the college application process is about introspection. If you are able to make the most of this time, you can come out on the other side with more confidence in yourself and your future plans. 

Now go get working! Take that first step today.

Questions? Let us know!