What You Need to Know About the College Application Process and How to Take Advantage of it This Summer

Summer is underway and you’re ready for some much-needed fun and relaxation…we get it! But, don’t forget that it’s critical to carve out some of your summer break to prepare for the upcoming college application and admissions season. Trust us, it will be here before you know it and you’ll be glad you got started early.

There are 3 main parts of the college application process: Selection, Application, and Financial Aid. The success of each of these is contingent on your preparation though and timing is critical. Wait too long and you could find yourself scrambling. Miss a deadline and it could cost you thousands in free money or worse – admission into your top college choice. That’s why we’re passionate about a student having fun and enjoying their summer, but also taking advantage of a slow-paced time where they can really dig into the college application process.

To get started, let’s break down each part – what you should expect and what action steps to take to succeed in each area.


The selection process has 2 phases – selecting the list of colleges you wish to apply to and then putting yourself in the best place possible to be selected by the colleges of your choice.

The initial phase and possibly the most important step in the college admissions process is creating, researching and narrowing down your list of colleges. While college visits to each college on your list prior to applying is highly encouraged, it’s not always realistic. If you’re getting a late start pulling your college list together, leveraging a seasoned college planning professional or one of the many college search engines could expedite your efforts. If you’d like to have a quick chat, we would love to sit down (or do a quick zoom meeting) with you and your parents. Schedule a 15-minute Complimentary Consultation here to discuss and help finalize your college list.

Once you have this finalized list, you’ll begin the application process.

After your applications are sent off, it’s a bit of a waiting game! Here’s a quick general timeline of when you might expect to hear back from colleges. In general, you’ll notice, the earlier you apply the sooner you’ll likely receive communications of your admissions outcome:

Early Application and Decision — Late November – Early January

Regular Application and Deferred Decision — January – Mid March

Waitlist Decision — Mid May – Late July


The application itself is obviously the most important part of the entire process. The core of the application includes your bio, details from your college resume, and other leadership and community service activities you have been involved in. In many cases, you will be asked to write an essay – another integral part of the application. These require a different kind of preparation as college admissions essays are very different than most essays written in and for school.

Summer is the perfect time to work on and learn the nuances of college essays. It allows you plenty of time to develop your ideas, practice writing and polish your essays in preparation for the opening of the application season on August 1st. If you’d like some support with your college application and essay process, you’re in luck! We’re doing a series of sessions called the “Get it Write” workshop where we’ll help you get your essays in tip-top shape! For more info on signing up for the workshop just shoot us a message!

The core application and essay aren’t all you’ll need to consider though. The other main points to complete and get ready for are: gathering your recommendations from teachers, counselors, and community leaders as well as preparing for your SAT’s, ACT’s, and other tests. If you feel a little lost when it comes to testing, then have no fear. We have an entire series on our resources page to help you through all the details and to better prepare you!

Remember, timing is everything. Every college has its own unique timelines and deadlines with most beginning their application season on August 1st. Using technology like Guided Path can make managing the various timelines and deadlines easier. Let us know if you need any help getting started with it or would like to learn more about Guided Path and our special partner discount.


Financial Aid is last, but certainly not least. We have covered in depth the importance of completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile applications both correctly and in a timely manner. The financial aid application season begins on October 1st, however, you will want to do this sooner than later as in many cases aid is first come, first serve.

While you’ll fill out these applications in the fall of your senior year, you won’t hear about the financial aid package you’ll be awarded until March. This is another positive of getting the FAFSA or CSS done really early on because when it’s already done, you have a lot more time to dedicate both to your studies, test prep, and scholarship searches.

To prepare for this portion over the summer, begin talking with your parents about their financial contribution, gather tax documents and other financial information, so you’re ready to complete everything when the FAFSA becomes available. You can learn more about this here.


The college application process can seem daunting, but with the right preparation, using your summer wisely and help along the way, you’ll be set up for success. Stay tuned for more tips on college essays and resumes soon! Have questions about the college application process or want to enlist our college application pros to help you? Get in touch with us anytime!