With hard deadlines for most regular decision applications coming up way too fast, the whole college admissions process can feel really overwhelming right now. This is especially true if you’re struggling to meet these deadlines with last-minute college applications.
If that’s where you are right now, take a deep breath and try to relax a little. You can do this — and we’re here to help get you through with these tips on what to do (and what to avoid) in your last-minute application process.
What to Do:
- Conserve your energy and resources. We tend to advocate completely tailoring each application to put your best foot forward, but at this late point in the applications game, sending something may be better than sending nothing at all. This doesn’t mean you should be lazy, but you may need to minimize the time you spend on these applications as much as possible. For example, if you’ve already written an essay about a hobby or extracurricular interest, you may be able to repurpose the majority of that essay for one about personal achievements, leadership ability, or overcoming obstacles, for example. Repurposing as much as you can, rather than starting from scratch, can save time — which is incredibly valuable right now, when it’s running out.
- Get your scores and letters of recommendation sent to these schools ASAP if you haven’t already done so. If this requires extra work on the part of the people writing your letters of recommendation, be sure to thank them profusely; they’re doing you a big favor by dealing with these sorts of things at this late point.
- Break down your tasks into daily, bite-sized chunks. Trying to apply to five schools in the next few days may sound overwhelming, so make an achievable daily list of what you need to do. Just seeing the smaller chunks you need to do each day may ease some of the stress, and it’ll also give you a roadmap for how to
- Ask for help! Your parents and other people in your support system will most likely be very happy to help. This could take various forms, from proofreading your essays to easing the pressure in other parts of your life for the next few days (maybe your parents are willing to cook for you to save you that time, for example, or the neighbors for whom you babysit are willing to find another babysitter this week so you can focus on your applications).
- Consider your alternatives. Remember, not getting those applications in may feel like the end of the world, but it honestly isn’t. Schools with rolling admissions often have later deadlines, so you may still be able to apply to those. If worst comes to worst, a gap year
What to Avoid:
- Don’t send gifts with your application. It can be easy to reason that your last-minute application might create a bad impression, so you should send a gift with it to make a better impression. Resist the temptation. These things don’t affect your chances of getting in, and some admissions officers may not even be allowed to accept them.
- Don’t wait until the last possible minute. If your electronic application is due at 11:59:59 PM, don’t wait until 11:58 to click “Submit.” Remember technological problems tend to crop up at the worst possible times; you don’t want a five-minute internet outage or a forced restart and update of your computer to make you miss the deadline.
- Don’t forget to proofread! Repurposing most of one essay you’ve already written to create a new one for a last-minute application is fine. Forgetting to change the name of the school you’re applying to in this essay isn’t. Especially when you’re in a hurry, take the time necessary to proofread. Pro tip: reading your application materials out loud (yes, literally) will help you catch any mistakes, awkward phrasing, repeated words, and so on.
- Similarly, double-check everything. Being in a hurry can lead to mistakes, so double-check your last-minute applications thoroughly. Did you remember to include everything? Did you fill in all the required spaces on all the forms? Are you following instructions exactly?