A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

’Tis the Season for College Application Tips

Posted by Jessica Smith on November 11, 2020

Westtown Class of 2020Now that we're safely past November 1, when almost all seniors have had at least one deadline, you may be wondering what happens next. Here are some tips for you. 

  1. Relax and reboot! Take a few college-free days if you're getting overwhelmed or if you don't have any deadlines for a while. Enjoy your friends and family. Sleep. Make healthy choices. Senior year is long and you need to take care of yourself.
  1. Keep going! Many of you may have application deadlines on or before December 1. Reach out to your college counselors who are there to help you. Note that December 1 falls just after Thanksgiving this year. Be sure to check your deadlines and make plans to see your counselor as needed before your Thanksgiving break. 

  2. Deadlines are closer than they appear! I know January 1 seems so far away, but remember that the month of December seems to fly by, and many schools are starting their winter breaks earlier this year. If you want your counselor or teachers to proofread essays or work on other application details, be sure to plan accordingly. It is good to get work done well in advance of the deadline and allow yourself some down time over break!

Also keep in mind that your teachers, counselors, and registrars will not be as easy to reach during the holidays, so be sure to check in with them about mailing your transcripts and application materials

  1. What if I'm waiting to find out about an early decision or early action school before I apply regular decision? That's totally fine, but prepare your application materials in time to meet deadlines. If you end up not applying after materials are sent, it's okay —but it is better to be safe and meet your deadlines than to scramble at the last minute. Please consider carefully how much help you need from your counselor before break and how much time you have during break. We strongly encourage you to get your most important applications done before the break, or at least have everything ready to go so all you have to do is press “submit.” You do not want to be stuck completing all of your regular decision applications during the end of your break; it is a lousy way to celebrate the new year! And remember, Common App will probably crash on January 1. It usually does. Don't wait until the last minute.
  1. What's my role as a parent or guardian? Check on financial aid requirements and deadlines on each college's website and complete all needed forms. Beyond that, your primary task is emotional support and, sometimes, logistical support with planning college visits (when possible) or keeping your child on task. This article is a good read about the ways students grow from the college application process. You might also appreciate this article: What You Can - and Can’t - Say to a High School Senior at Thanksgiving. You can give your senior a lot of support by being ready to talk about sports, the weather, or the latest family gossip if relatives are getting too pushy about college plans. 

And just remember your counselors and teachers are ready to help!

Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Communication and Children

Jessica Smith

Written by Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith is Director of College Counseling at Westtown School. Previously, she served as Associate Director of College Guidance, faculty co-clerk, English teacher, and English department chair at Wilmington Friends School. She attended Mount Holyoke College and earned her M.S.Ed. at the University of Pennsylvania.