6 Last-Minute Tips for Early Action and Early Decision Applicants

Crunch time for Early Action and Early Decision applicants can be overwhelming. Remember, however, that you have already made the most difficult decision--where to apply to school. And if you are accepted, you will be done with the entire college application process well ahead of your peers.

Here are six last-minute tips to help you power through the stress and complete a winning application:

1. Ensure your admissions essay fully explains your Early Action or Early Decision choice
Admissions committees do not enjoy reading personal statements that could be speaking about any school, especially when written by Early Action or Early Decision candidates. Your admissions essay should prove that this college is not just your first-choice school, but that it is your only highly regarded school. After all, that is why you are applying early--right? Your next step is to make the admissions committee believe that.

2. Proofread your materials, and then proofread them again
It is next to impossible to overdue proofreading. Proofread your admissions essay, your application, and any other document an admissions counselor will see. One trick is to proofread in different formats. This can prompt your brain and your eyes to read what is actually written, rather than following familiar patterns. Proofread on your computer screen, and then dramatically increase the font size for your second review. Next, proofread printed versions with varying font sizes. Finally, always read your work aloud.

3. Expand your review process
Ask your family members, friends, mentors, and teachers to review your application materials. These individuals may have a unique perspective on your value to the college or university that can strengthen your portfolio. You may also wish to inquire at your school about whether it offers an application review service. Ultimately, the more opinions you receive, the stronger your application will be.

4. Triple-check all submission directions
This may seem simple, but you should ensure that you follow all submission directions. For example, your admissions essay may need to be uploaded in a specific file format, with particular margin sizes. Technical details may abound, especially if you are applying online. Read the directions multiple times, and complete them with a family member to verify that your application is flawless.

5. Submit your application before the last day
Consider these worst-case scenarios: your Internet is unstable, or the browser continues to freeze on the school computer that you are using. These problems are not rare, and they can mean the difference between meeting and missing an application deadline. To avoid an unpleasant outcome, submit your application a week or so before the deadline. This will allow enough time for it to be processed and for you to check its status.

6. Celebrate finishing your application, and then start on your others
Hopefully you will be accepted to your Early Action or Early Decision college, but you will not receive a response for several weeks. In the meantime, begin your regular decision applications. It may be impossible not to think about your Early Action or Early Decision status, but you can find a way to productively focus your efforts on your next round of applications.