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The Best Ways Students Can Begin the College Application Process Early Like a Pro

Juniors Naomi Richardson, Johan Caceres, and Mannat Kaur pleads for a recommendation letter from Mr. Johnson.

As the school year comes to a close, the class of 2025 at NYC Museum School have begun their long and stressful journey in applying for colleges. Some juniors have already started to think about their plans for after high school, but there are many that just don’t know where to begin. Applying for college may seem overwhelming and intimidating but students can successfully enter this crucial part in their life with the correct guidance. 

“There is a lot of anxiety around the whole process.” Ms. Ortiz, the college counselor, recommends kids “prepare early so it doesn’t become too overwhelming.” 

One of the first things students should begin to do during this time is to research and get familiar with different colleges. Senior Abigail Fernandez kept a “pros and cons list for every school.” It’s also a good idea to take into account the location, activity offerings and size to get a feel of campus life. Fernandez continues, “It’s best to see the schools you might want to go to in person.”

Currently, the juniors are working on the first draft of their college essays and asking for teacher recommendation letters. 11th grade US History and APUSH teacher Mr. Johnson receives a lot of requests to write these letters and he states he “writes a letter to pretty much anyone who asks.” Mr. Johnson continues, “The only time I don’t do it is if someone asked me in November and needs it by December.” These letters are extremely important for colleges to know what type of person and student they are potentially accepting so that’s why it’s crucial for juniors to ask as soon as they can.  

What could also be a factor in how students apply is preparing ahead with AP courses. “If you’re thinking of choosing what APs to do, just maybe think about what you might want to do in the future.” Emma Reynolds says. Taking the course and passing the exam gives college credit which can further boost applications. 

It’s normal for students to be unsure of what they’re interested in or want to pursue and there’s still time to figure that out. “Getting involved in things that interest them” Ms. Ortiz suggests, “putting yourself out there, you’ll have first-hand experience and decide what you like and don’t like.” There are many summer internships and volunteer programs students can get involved in to help figure out what is best for them. 

The Common Application opens on August 1st allowing students to apply to multiple schools and submit their essays. But this also comes with meeting the due dates required. “Keeping a calendar is probably the most effective way to meeting your deadlines,” Ms. Ortiz suggested. “Find a buddy to keep you accountable.”

Missing deadlines could threaten a student’s chance of getting accepted into a school. “I started early and just made sure when the deadlines were.” Reynolds said. It all comes down to managing the time well and knowing what needs to get done first. Fernandez managed her time by “prioritizing in the moment” and this meant leaving room for both school and college work.

Ms. Ortiz advises juniors should expect to continue working on their college applications and managing their time well during senior year. “My best advice is start early, get an accountable partner, do the best you can and try not to procrastinate.”

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