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Starting a new school year can be stressful and busy, especially the senior year. Although students may be busy getting back in the swing of a new school year, September is the time to begin working in earnest on college plans. For students who have chosen their first choice college, it is the time to consider applying early. For others, it may be time to start digging into financial aid research and other preparation.

Early Decision and Early Action

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If you know for certain that you would like to apply to a particular school, there can be certain benefits, however it is important that you understand the process. There are two types of early applications: early decision and early action. With early decision applications, it is important to know for certain that you wish to attend the college for which you are applying. When you apply for early decision, you are committing to attend that school if you are accepted, as long as the financial aid offered is sufficient. Those who apply for early decision can only do so with one school.

Early action applications allow you to apply for admission into a school without committing to attend. You can apply for early action to more than one school. In either case, that of early decision or early action, you will typically receive a decision from the college early – often as early as December. This can ease the stress of waiting for decisions from colleges and give you more time to plan for your college year, but applying early does make for a busy September. ACT or SAT scores must be completed by October to be counted for early applicants, so it is advisable to prepare for these tests over the summer and schedule to take them as soon as possible if you have not already taken one of these tests.

Even if you are not planning to apply early for college, September is still a busy month for seniors. It is time to start preparing to apply to schools later in the year. Many schools require essays or interviews during the application process. Most schools also require letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors. Now is the time to begin those essays and acquire those letters of recommendation if you have not already done so. All this must begin, while you are also studying and working through a normal class load. This can seem overwhelming, and so it is important that you remember to use resources at your disposal. Utilize internet resources, guidance counselors, parents, and college advisers to help you get everything accomplished. Your hard work and dedication to going to the right college will pay off.