This post is part of a series focusing on Time Management for Teens, Students, and High Schoolers. Get the complete online course here or order the book here!
How To Be Ready For College Applications
In this article I wanted to hit something that’s crucially important to almost all high schoolers.
It’s something that I’m sure gets on your mind more and more as you go through freshman to senior year. I’m talking of course about College Applications.
Besides the applications themselves, there’s also the research involved. Selecting potential colleges is another part of the process that will take a lot of time. It simply cannot be rushed.
Last but not least, you should explore your SCHOLARSHIP options. (More on that in a few minutes.)
Basically, the entire college application process is time-consuming (at least, if you want to do it properly). And you should, because these decisions are going to affect you for the rest of your life!
Taking On-Campus Tours of Colleges
For example, part of selecting your top colleges includes taking in-person campus tours.
We can’t always tour every college we want because of limitations on time, budget, and distance. But, it still pays to see every schools that you can.
And that means, you’ll have to give up a lot of time and energy that you COULD use for other things like high school coursework.
College Tours and Applications Take Tons of Time
My point is, the process eats up even MORE free time that you might have expected to use for college applications.
So plan to use some of your high school breaks and long weekends to get out of town. Go visit some schools!
Don’t be fooled into leaving all your college tours for summer.
True, summer is a good time when YOUR schedule is not so busy.
But unfortunately, a college campus will feel pretty dead in summer. In summer, it’s much harder to get a feel for what the college is actually like when school is in session.
You MUST Start College Applications Early
Campus tours are just one of many reasons why you MUST start your college application process FAR in advance. Ideally, months and months before your competition begins to work on their college search.
By carefully planning and budgeting your time for college applications, you’ll be able to:
- Find better choices for personal-fit colleges.
- Craft fantastic college applications that win your seat at the best schools.
- Significantly reduce the cost of your education by winning scholarships and grants.
Approach College Planning Like A Junior or Senior in High School
I’m mainly going to approach this from the perspective of a high-school Junior or Senior.
However, everyone should be taking notes. This is the probably the BIGGEST project of your entire high school career.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not your turn yet for college applications. It’s still one of those situations where the more you know, the better off you will be.
The Most Important Tasks and Dates of College Applications
First, I’m going summarize the most important tasks, dates, and seasons of the college apps process.
It’s hard to do a complete list of every last thing you’ll need to do for college apps. But, I’m going to hit the highlights.
Get your pen and paper ready because there’s a lot to learn!
1st Priority: Grades and Hard Classes
Your first priority must always be your school classes and grades.
Your high school GPA is a full-time job and then some.
Never sacrifice your grades and good standing in high school for ANYTHING!
Take the hardest classes you can without burning out. Keep your good grades first and foremost in your mind at all times.
(But, here are a few ideas for college apps if your grades aren’t so good in high school).
2nd Priority: Activities, Sports, and Clubs
Up next are extracurriculars, sports, clubs and leadership positions - in other words, your college resume!
Obviously these activities take up a huge amount of time for all four years of high school.
This can include anything from studio art to the football team.
Your sports, activities, and leadership positions will be almost as important on your college resume as your GPA is.
3rd Priority: SAT and ACT Test Scores
Next in importance come your test scores - meaning the SAT and ACT tests.
SAT prep and ACT prep should generally start in Fall or Winter of Junior Year. Then, you should continue all the way through Fall of Senior Year.
Try to plan your test prep for slower seasons of your years.
For example, what if you’re a huge varsity football player and your team is in the running for the championships?
Then you know you’ll probably have a very busy football season. So, plan your test prep to start immediately after the busiest part of your sports season.
Next, Start Your College Research
Once your grades, resume, and test scores are looking solid, it’s time to start researching possible colleges.
This is also known as making your “long list.” It should include weeks of research with books and internet.
Also make use of conversations with counselors, parents, teachers. Don’t forget about anyone else you look to for advice.
Winter of Junior Year is probably the ideal time to make a long list of colleges. That way, you know your specific goals before the busy end of Junior year.
Refine Your College List To Highly-Targeted Schools
When you have a long list ready, it’s time to gradually whittle down into a refined final list.
You need to use every trick at your disposal to make a highly-targeted and smart final list of colleges you will apply to.
Of course, you should follow the age-old advice of applying to a mix of schools - from “I’m sure I’ll get in this college” to “wow, that university is a big stretch for me.”
However, each college you apply to means more time on applications, higher application fees, and more stress.
So, use tricks like campus tours, alumni interviews, and serious personal research. You want to make a shorter list of colleges that fit you perfectly.
Leave Time For Your College Apps and Essays
You need to finish your college list in time to actually do your College Applications and College Essays. That’s the next stage of the process!
This stage probably seems like it takes longer than it really does. If you work efficiently, you can actually make a lot of progress in a short time.
Consider tricks like creating one main college resume first. Do this before you even begin any specific college application.
Then you can re-use your college resume as a handy reference to fill out all your applications quickly.
Also think about how your college essay themes and examples can be adapted to fit multiple college essay topics.
Of course, you should never re-use an essay for two colleges.
But, you also don’t need to keep re-inventing the wheel. Find the best personal topics, stories, and themes that you can use as the core of multiple college essays.
Budget At Least A Week Per College Application
Between copying over info and writing new essays, you’ll probably want about a week of work time budgeted per college app. That’s at a minimum!
Obviously you can rush your applications and finish them in just a few hours. But, then you won’t have time to revise and get feedback. Rushing will prevent you from doing your best work and will hurt your chances of being accepted.
Students who rush through the stage of filling out college apps will be very vulnerable to competitive students. You may lose out to competition who planned better and spent more time crafting an incredible application.
Make no mistake. This kind of detailed, patient work on your entire college application makes a BIG difference. You’ll make a much better impression on the college admissions counselors.
And some students (like me), are spending a lot of time carefully making a great college application. That’s your competition!
Don’t underestimate how time-consuming the paperwork and essays can be. Try to leave yourself spare time.
Then, find other people to look over your college applications and to help you revise your college essays.
(By the way, contact us for personal help with college applications and essays!)
Start Asking For Teacher Recommendations
At the same time as you start your college apps, you should also be printing out teacher recommendation forms. Start nicely asking your favorite teachers to fill the recommendations out for you.
Ask teachers who like you and whose classes you always participate in and contribute to.
It’s incredibly important to give them weeks of advance notice. High school teachers are very busy. The last thing you want is to have an angry and frustrated teacher writing your college recommendation.
Plus, the earlier you are to ask, the more MATURE you seem. That’s always a good thing when someone is about to write a college reference letter on your behalf!
Don’t Stop There. Apply For Scholarships!
Now you just need to send in your apps and wait patiently to hear back.
But don’t just sit around!
If you’re REALLY smart you’ll make a plan to win thousands of dollars in college scholarships. That way you barely have to pay anything for your college education.
More on this in a moment!
No One’s College Apps Are “Typical”
Now, the entire process I’ve just gone over basically describes the “average” or “typical” college-app situation.
But of course, NO ONE turns out to be “average” or “typical.”
Make sure you’ve considered all the angles and done all your research and planning for yourself.
Start Early So You Have Time To Win Scholarship Money
However, there’s one more thing that applies to almost every high schooler.
Don’t be fooled into thinking its “just for seniors.” Everyone needs to think about budgeting time for college apps and research.
Start the college process a few months earlier than the rest of the pack.
Then you can USE extra time to win tons and tons of money from scholarships and alternate financial aid.
Don’t laugh if that sounds crazy to you. If you start early ANYONE can do this.
There are billions of dollars in unclaimed college scholarship funds each and every academic year.
Win Thousands In College Scholarship Money
Manage your time effectively and get the bulk of your college research, and apps and essays done ahead of time. Then you’ll have extra time to win the exact scholarships and grants that your classmates don’t even bother to apply for!
They’ll all run out of time senior year. Your competition will be crushed just keeping up with college apps and high school.
My way of thinking is, you’re going to HAVE to do college research, applications and essays eventually! So really, there is no point to delaying!
By finishing early, you free up time to get paid very handsomely for filling out scholarship apps!
Few High Schoolers Actually Apply For Scholarships
The number of high schoolers who are early-starters on their college apps is about 1 in 1000.
Out of every 1000 high school students, probably only about ONE will start early enough to have time for any scholarships.
So you may think you have NO CHANCE at winning any scholarships. You may think there are “so many better students out there.”
But the thing is, every high schooler basically says this to themselves. Then everyone runs out of time Senior year, just trying to stay afloat with school and college applications!
Your Scholarship Chances Are Better Than You Think
Out of every 1000 high school students who could apply for a college scholarship, 999 will NOT apply for even a single scholarship.
Why? Because they’re running out of time, and they don’t believe in the odds.
That’s not just the “lazy” kids, it’s also highly-competitive kids who don’t apply for any scholarships.
I didn’t apply for a SINGLE college scholarship in high school. I was IGNORANT of the possibilities!
And, I didn’t budget any TIME for scholarships even if I had known more about them.
So just by applying for top scholarships, you’ve already yourself in the “1 in 1000” category.
No Limit To How Many Scholarships You Can Win
These are the possibilities of finishing college apps early. Then you can move on to winning unlimited scholarship money!
After all, there is NO LIMIT to the number of scholarships you can apply for.
Unlike with your seat at a top college, you can win more than one scholarship at a time.
So, there is much more benefit to applying for multiple scholarship awards.
But, You Need To Be Ahead On College Applications
The only way to have time for scholarship apps is to be ahead of the curve on “normal” college apps.
To WIN all the scholarships other people don’t win, you want to APPLY for more scholarships than other people.
How do you do that?
Simple - you start sooner than everyone else. And, you carve out the time for extra scholarship applications.
Scholarships Pay Better Than ANY High School Job
Scholarships pay much better than a summer job.
In fact, the hours invested in your scholarships typically pay of from 3x to 10x times better than any summer job in high school.
Maybe you can make $8 an hour bagging groceries over the summer.
If you put that time into applying for a bunch of scholarships, you have a good chance of winning a few.
You could see that scholarship time pay you from $25 to $100 per hour!
There are billions of dollars in unclaimed scholarships each year. These can return $20, $30, $50, even $100 per hour of your time.
Even if you don’t win all of them, it only takes a couple of scholarships to make a huge financial difference.
The More Scholarships You Do, The Easier They Get
Here’s another huge secret. The more scholarships you fill out, the EASIER it gets to fill out even MORE scholarships!
Once you’ve filled out your first couple of scholarship applications, the rest go much faster. You can re-use information and answers. You can also recycle general essay concepts.
Heck, you might even just recycle large parts of your college applications and resume! You just finished completing all those applications. So, you’ll have it all fresh in your mind.
By the way, I just gave a HUGE secret. It’s one that helps explain why a few students end up winning much more scholarship money than everyone else!
Scholarship winnings tend to snowball. Make sure you understand this secret and use it to your advantage!
Get My Course On Winning College Scholarships
Winning money for college is something I am REALLY interested in on behalf of my students.
So, I’ve actually made an entire online course on Winning College Scholarships. It also includes dozens of creative financial aid options for high schoolers. I want you to check it out and enroll right now!
It’s a comprehensive course on how to find and win thousands of dollars to pay for college tuition. If that sounds good, I want you go right now and enroll in my online course on Winning College Scholarships.
This course is actually one of the biggest online courses I’ve ever made. There’s so much info I wanted to include! Go check it out!
It Doesn’t Matter What Year In School
It doesn’t matter if you’re a sophomore, a senior, or even a seventh-grader.
If you plan to go to college, then you should A) start the process super-early and B) apply for more scholarships than everyone else.
This might sound like a lot of work. It might sound like it takes a lot of time.
And it does - but it’s an INVESTMENT that pays back 100x.
Win Scholarships For A Better Future
The further you get in your career post-college, the more this stuff will matter to you.
You won’t have big student loans, and you’ll have graduated with a great degree from a great college.
You’ll also have mapped out some of your biggest life goals and dreams.
Honestly, that sounds inspiring to me. It’s what gives me the energy to write all these articles on time management and college readiness!
I’m inspired by the idea that my students taking this course will think ahead about their lives, college applications, and scholarships.
Because they think ahead, there will be more passion and fulfillment out in the world around me. And that ultimately makes the world better for you, me, and everyone!
The Way You Start College Affects Your Whole Life
It’s like that concept that a butterfly flapping its wings in America can cause a hurricane across the world in China.
Your early start, right now in high school, is the first flap of those wings.
It can cause the most incredible results for YOU, years down the line.
Today’s work will pay off in the form of a happy and successful feeling years from now.
That’s how I feel as an entrepreneur doing what I love. That’s how I want you, and everyone I know, to feel.
Review of College And Scholarship Applications
So, just to review…
The process of finding and applying to colleges and scholarships is VERY time consuming.
Unfortunately, it’s much more time-consuming than you can possibly imagine, if you’ve never done it before.
Still, we only go through college and scholarship season once. Just one time in our entire lives.
We only get one chance - and the effort you put in will pay itself back in HUGE ways!
Scholarships pay more than almost anything else you can do in high school… unless you’re already a famous celebrity in high school!
(If you are a high school celebrity, please leave a note in the comments section below! I definitely want to know if any celebrities are reading this!)
The Whole Process Can Easily Take 12-18 Months
Anyway, it is NOT crazy to spend up to 12 to 18 months on your full-time college and scholarship search.
Get out those calendars and create a plan of attack as soon as possible because there’s no time to waste.
Again, if you’re interested in going more in-depth on winning scholarship money and financial aid, go enroll now in my Winning College Scholarships course!
Question For You: What’s Your Top College?
Finally, here’s a question for you to answer in the comments section below:
What’s your top #1 college choice right now, and why exactly is it your favorite option?
Do you think you can get in right now? Are your scores, grades and resume strong enough?
Leave a note in the comments section to tell me everything exciting about your top college pick. Explain why you want to go there so badly and what you want to study!
I’ll see you in the next article!
Make this year your most productive year ever! Get the complete Time Management for Teens Online Course or order the book on Amazon today.