Seniors Top Tips

Top Tips for High School Seniors

We have been flooded with emails and calls from current seniors and their parents asking how we can help them in the confusing process of college applications. So, take a deep, calming breath and read on for our…


  1. Create a plan NOW to finalize all of your college applications before December 1st. That means designating time each week in the rest of November to focus on various aspects of the application from the Common App to the main essay, and even those small 150-word supplements that some colleges require. Our Application Boot Camp and Private Counseling rising senior students spent 30-40 hours on essays alone this past summer. Commit to every Sunday afternoon and each Wednesday evening (or sub in days you prefer) as your KEY time to organize, research, and write for several hours in a row. Cut out your social life through the Thanksgiving holiday (except for needed family time of course) and until December 1st, as the time spent now will pay off in college options.
  2. Review the Common Application page by page, slowly and carefully. It’s confusing and you don’t want to wait until you are ready to click the submit button! Ensure you understand each section now. Students who work with us in any of our programs gain access to our exclusive ‘Mysteries of the Common Application’ file that we prep every August 1st. Wondering where to put that short answer essay that describes why you switched high schools? It’s in there. Not sure what the protocol is for completing the ‘Colleges and Universities’ course section in the Common App? Yep, that’s in there too. Unsure which standardized test scores are self-reported and which you need to list in the Common App AND have official score reports sent? Our ‘Mysteries of the Common App’ guide lays it all out for you.
  3. Leverage the ‘Additional Information’ text box that the new Common Application gives you. You have 650 words to let schools know more details on your extracurriculars for instance. Don’t leave this space blank.
  4. Craft an application strategy that includes non-binding early action schoolsSome non-binding early action deadlines are later than the usual Nov. 1st and Nov. 15th deadlines this year. Ithaca College, Dickinson College and Colby-Sawyer College all have a non-binding early action deadline of Dec. 1st, so there is still time to utilize that terrific EA round! You’ll also want to have your application for your EDII school finalized in case your EDI school does not work out. Possible EDII colleges to consider: Vanderbilt, NYU, Wake Forest, Tufts, Hamilton, American or Emory, for example.
  5. Ensure your main essay for the Common Application focuses on your main academic area of interest (and what you’ve done in that field so far) NOT your strong character, great personality or sports success.
  6. Research your pending colleges’ supplemental essay questions and organize them into categories. Our students are proactive and write the essays they want to write, fitting them into the supplements rather than the other way around.

high school seniors top tips


Lastly, remember to focus on your all-important grades this fall! They will matter. Use weekends and Thanksgiving break to get ahead on course readings and assignments and keep your momentum strong for this final push. It will be worth it when you are unpacking in your new dorm room this August, we promise!

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