Your college application playbook

Key considerations for fall’s college app planning

Jump-start your college applications with these tips for prep.

As a high school student, you probably already know you can never be too prepared when it comes to academics. But this lesson extends outside the classroom, too, to college applications. In fact, research and preparation in the beginning stages of your college applications can help ensure they’re completed in full, on time, and to the best of your ability.

Ready to start planning your college application strategy? Here’s what you need to know.

Seniors should apply to 6–8 schools.

Two can be “safety” schools where your GPA and test scores are well above their minimum;

2–4 should be schools where you meet the requirements and are likely to be admitted;

1–2 should be “reach” schools, where your credentials fall below the school’s typical range for admission.

Source: CollegeBoard

College admissions readers spend 15–20 minutes reading each essay, so be concise.

Spend as much time thinking about what you’ll write as writing the essay itself.

Source: The New York Times

Pinpoint 1 to 3 teachers to write your recommendation letters.

Provide them with:

  • Recommendation deadlines
  • Your goals at each college (what you plan to study)
  • Your strengths and passions
  • Details about any projects you excelled at while in their classes
  • Your high school resume

Source: PrepScholar

Average application fees are $43 per university.

Other fees you’ll encounter are SAT and ACT fees, which are $47.50 and $46, respectively.


Know your deadlines:

  • Early-action deadlines are earlier, typically November 1 or 15
  • Regular deadlines are typically January 1 or 15
  • Your decision deadline is typically May 1

Source: PrepScholar


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