The deadlines for college applications are fast approaching (or may have already passed for some early-action options), and this is the time to make sure you have all the pieces of your application properly filled out and ready to be sent to the colleges of your choice.  Applying to college can feel really overwhelming, and all of the forms and letters of recommendation and essays can really seem to pile up.  If you are still working on your applications, here are some last-minute tips that can help you get everything you need to do done, and help keep some of your stress down.  You’re going to want to save your stressed-out, crazy meltdowns for after you actually get in to college.

1. Make a Checklist for each school

One of the best ways to make sure you meet the application deadlines is to keep all of your materials organized, and be aware of what schools need what information by what date.  A great thing to do, especially if you are a list person, is to go to each school’s website and make a list of all the materials they require for their application.  Then you can go through what you have ready, and check things off as you go.  If you have one place you can turn to to keep yourself on track, you are less likely to drive your self crazy.  This way, you can also go through the schools one by one, and make sure you don’t confuse the different deadlines and requirements. Organization is key!

2. Get one more opinion on your Essay

You have probably (hopefully) stressing out over your college essay for a while now, and eventually the whole thing just seems like a blob of words.  If you haven’t had anyone read over your essay, make sure you get at least 2 people you trust and are willing to listen to to read it over.  It is important to have someone catch any mistakes you might have missed, and to make sure your essay is what the colleges are actually looking for.

3. Check for College Names

If at any point in any of your application materials, like in your essay, you mention the school by name, double check to make sure you are mentioning the right school.  You don’t want to send an essay in to Yale that talks about how desperately you want to go to Harvard.

4. Don’t wait until the absolute last minute

Yes, you are down to the wire at this point anyway, but you want to leave yourself with at least a week between when you submit your application and the deadline.  Why? Things could get lost in the mail, or in cyberspace, and you don’t want a technical issue to ruin your chances of going to your dream school.  College applications are one place where the “due tomorrow, do tomorrow” motto does not apply.

5. Check on your letters of recommendation

Even if you asked your favorite teacher to write you a letter weeks ago, now is the time to check they actually did it, and submitted it to the right person.  Teachers are busy, and chances are they wrote more letters than just yours, so just give them a friendly reminder.

6. Re-read the directions

Is your essay the right number of pages? Did you put your last name, first name when required? Are all the parts of the application filled in correctly?  We can’t stress how important it is to go over your application materials multiple times, because too many silly errors will annoy that wonderful admissions officer holding your future in your hands.

7. Tell mom and dad to ease up

Yes, you should have someone read over your application and easy, no, that person should not be one of your parents.  Once you get to college, your parents won’t be there to make sure you are getting everything done on time, and you should start asserting this independence now.  If you have mommy fill out your application, or tell you what to write, an admissions officer could pick up on that, and your application might not truly reflect who you are.

8. Don’t forget about FAFSA

If you are hoping to get some financial aid from the government, the deadline for the FAFSA application, which differs by state but happens sometime in the new year, can also sneak up on you.  Keep this in mind when you are applying, and this is one area where mom and dad are allowed to help.

Keep some of these things in mind, and don’t forget to relax a little too.

Good luck!

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