— When to Start —

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Fundamental Mistake #1:Not Starting Until Junior Year

deadline2For whatever insane reason, many families start the “college process” about halfway through Junior year. Because most colleges recommend that this is when students “start thinking about college,” and because most schools have extremely limited college advisory capabilities, this is a common, and extremely damaging, trend.

Starting to think about college this late in the game is terrible for two very distinct reasons:


There is FAR too much to do in this little time.

If you want to put together a competitive application, here’s a small taste of what you’ll need to accomplish by your deadlines:

  • Write all your essays
  • Select all your schools
  • Fill out all applications
  • Prepare for and take the SAT or ACT
  • Prepare for and take SAT 2s
  • Select, prepare for, and take all AP classes and exams
  • Request and secure all recommendations
  • Fill out all supplemental essays
  • Secure insider liaisons at all schools
  • Go to college visits and interviews
  • Keep your grades as high as possible
  • Attend to all extracurriculars and enhance them for better admissions chances

If you think you’ll be able to do all of this in less than a year…you’re in trouble. It can be done, but it’s better if you start the process ahead of time. If you have less than a year until your deadlines, get moving IMMEDIATELY. When you finish this guide, start. Whether your child is a freshman, a sophomore, or a junior, it doesn’t matter. The sooner you start, the better.


If you wait too long, you’ll select terrible colleges, and you won’t have the time to create the “specialist applications” necessary to get into them.

todolist When it comes to admissions, half the game is simply selecting the right schools. The other half is tailoring your story and your application to fit them.

Colleges aren’t concerned with whether your child is “good” – they care about whether your child is good for them.

Selecting the right schools and altering your applications to entice their admissions committees isn’t just sound advice – it is ESSENTIAL to admissions. As I’ll soon show you, failing to select the right school or tailoring your application to match them will result in a giant pile of rejections and a miserable senior year.

Doing this takes time. Start now. When you rush your college preparation process, you rush your college selection process. BIG mistake…

Section Summary: Start the college planning process as soon as you possibly can. There’s far too much to leave until junior year. Most “insiders” start researching and planning for their college applications their freshman year. This might sound like “tiger mom” stuff, but the earlier you get started, the less stressful this process becomes.
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