Three Reminders Before Pressing “Submit” on Those College Applications

T’is the season!

It goes without saying that your college applicant has shifted into high-gear right about now: homework, year-end assignments, championship games, recitals, performances and, drumroll please, college application deadlines.

Mid-November, December 1, December 8, the list goes on and on. The dates for various application decisions, honors programs and financial aid forms come in waves making it difficult for students to discern the shore let alone the horizon.

Here are three words — or phrases — of encouragement I’m offering my students to help them dock their proverbial boats, preferably before the holidays:

Double-Check Deadlines

Nothing makes me grumpier than, after prodding a student to not miss a deadline, receiving the frantic “We missed it” text or email. Yes, I do take the blow along with the student, as we are in this together so the “we” applies. The only advantage I have is age and experience; I’ve missed hard deadlines and cried in the aftermath hence my wanting to protect my students from the same misery. I explain at the onset of the Essay Journey that a submission date’s real so check, double-check and don’t play chicken with a college application deadline. The fallout doesn’t make for a Merry Holiday or a Happy New Year.

Read Prompts Aloud

When I suggest reading their essay prompts, and even their actual essays, aloud to themselves, my students often say they’re too embarrassed. “I don’t like to hear my voice,” said one. “I don’t like to hear what I’ve written,” said another. My response? “You most likely read aloud when you were little, so return to that state of learning and think of it as child’s play.” I might not say it quite that succinctly, but the students get my gist. Those who admit to reading the prompts aloud write essays that are almost always on message; similarly, students who read their work aloud usually reduce the number of drafts needed to nail their essay. Net-net? Win-win.

Eye on the Prize

A student may think the prize is their Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA) choice. And it may be. But I’ve seen a number of students receive acceptances at their Single Choice EA school and choose to apply Regular Decision (RD) to other colleges only to wind up at one of those “second rounders” versus their supposedly preferred ED/EA institution. This may seem unfathomable, but the prize for your student might not necessarily be your Alma Mater or the Ivy League line-up or the schools with the lowest acceptance rates. It might be the one your student revisits and decides is the most comfortable fit for them.

Have a wonderfully restful holiday season and if your student needs Essay Coaching or College Counseling, please drop me a line at or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, check out my Facebook page for “news you can use.”