Applying to Multiple Colleges: Tips to Stay Organized and Meet Deadlines

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    Applying to multiple colleges at once can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, many schools use the Common App or Coalition App. These are online college application platforms that streamline the college application process by partnering with colleges and universities so students only have to input key information once. 

    Both the Common App and Coalition App will help you stay organized and keep track of important deadlines. Familiarize yourself with the differences between the Common App and the Coalition App; then make a login for the platform most suited to your needs. 

    In the meantime, common questions students asked themselves during the college application process include: How many reach schools should I apply to? How many colleges can I apply to on Common App? And how many colleges should I visit? 

    If you have similar questions, read on for further insights into the college application process. Learn valuable tips for how to apply to multiple colleges at once, while staying organized and meeting deadlines. 

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    Planning ahead: Steps to take your junior year

    Senior year is a particularly busy year. Thankfully, there are several important college application steps to take during your junior year. Ideally, you should take your SAT or ACT twice during your junior year, once during the fall and once during the spring. You should also start thinking about which schools you want to apply to. 

    You don’t necessarily need to have a finalized college list during your junior year, but you should definitely start researching colleges, meet with your guidance counselor, and consider what options may be available to you after graduation. You’ll also want to start visiting colleges during your junior year, as well as during the summer before your senior year

    Researching colleges is one of the most important steps of the college application process, but how do you choose which colleges to apply to? And how many colleges should you apply to? Is applying to 4 colleges enough?

    While there is no set number of colleges you should apply to, typically 5-8 colleges is a good number. How many colleges can you apply to on Common App? The Common App allows you to submit up to 20 applications, but applying to more than 12 colleges starts to become too many. 

    Questions to consider when making your college list

    In this section, we’ll review some key questions to ask yourself during your initial college research. You’ll also want to read up about the differences between colleges and universities, as well as explore various types of colleges and universities, such as liberal arts colleges in the East and ​​top public universities in the West

    There are thousands of colleges and universities to consider in the US. So how do you decide where to apply? One of the first steps will be to figure out what type of college you are most interested in attending. Some options include 2-year colleges, 4-year colleges, trade schools, art and music schools, liberal arts colleges, and public universities.

    You’ll also want to start thinking about college majors you may be interested in pursuing. Lots of students start college undecided, but you should try to figure out options that interest you before you start college. That way, you’ll be more likely to choose a college that supports your academic interests and goals. 

    Of course, there are other factors you’ll want to consider when selecting colleges. Here are some common questions you’ll want to reflect on when selecting colleges for your college list:

    • Do you prefer small or large classes?
    • Do you prefer rural or urban settings?
    • How far from home do you want to be?
    • What do you want to study?
    • What are your extracurricular interests?

    Some students, especially those with demonstrated financial need, may wonder how many colleges can you apply to for free? There isn’t necessarily a limit to how many colleges you can apply to for free; rather, some colleges may offer application fee waivers, while others may not. After all, every college is different. Depending on your financial needs, your ability to receive fee waivers may influence how many schools you choose to apply to. Keep this in mind as you form your college list. 

    Organizing your college research (template)

    It’s important to stay organized during the college application process. After all, there are a lot of important dates and facts to remember about each college. Use the template below to help you stay organized as you research colleges. You may also want to consider the Class of 2026 college acceptance rates as you start assembling your college list. 

    Name of College Location Student Population Acceptance Rate Cost of Tuition Application Deadline Website Additional Notes
    1. I’m editable!

    Important college application dates and deadlines

    One of the most important ways to remain organized and prepared during the college application season is to be aware of important college admissions dates, including SAT and ACT test dates. To start, let’s review a few important college application dates and deadlines:

    • August 1st: Common App goes live
    • October 1st: FAFSA goes live
    • May 1st: National College Decision Day

    Most regular decision college applications are due sometime between December and January and will notify you of their decision sometime in April, with the expectation that you will make a final decision by May 1st. But what about early action and early decision?

    What you need to know about Early Decision and Early Action

    It’s important to make informed decisions about early action and early decision as soon as you are able, for the simple reason that their application deadlines are early. To start, you likely have a few questions, such as: Can you apply to multiple colleges early decision? And how many colleges can you apply to early action?

    While there is certainly some nuance to these questions, Early Action and Early Decision are fairly straightforward. Applying early action or early decision signals a clear, demonstrated interest. It also speeds up the college application process. 

    Now, what is the difference between early action and early decision? Early decision is a binding agreement with a college. This means that if a student is accepted, they are contractually obligated to attend that school. Students who apply early decision are not permitted to send out other applications early. They also have to rescind regular decision applications if they are accepted. Early action, however, is nonbinding. This means that students may apply to multiple schools through early action. Again, early applications help signal demonstrated interest and speed up the college application process.  

    Now, onto dates: early applicants receive admissions decisions in December and January. Regular decision applicants, however, often have to wait until April for their college admissions decisions. So when are early action and early decision application deadlines? Typically, early deadlines fall between November 1st and November 15th. 

    Organizational tips for college applications

    Now that we’ve discussed important college application prep work, let’s take a look at some practical tips for staying organized during the actual college application process. To start, consider the following organizational tips and strategies: 

    • Keep a folder for each college you are applying to. Place all relevant paperwork, brochures, and documents in this folder. 
    • Make a calendar with important dates and deadlines. Place this calendar somewhere visible and periodically refer to it to ensure you are on track. 
    • Bookmark relevant websites for easy access later. 
    • Make a digital folder on your computer with all of your college-related documents. 
    • Break down the college application process into smaller, manageable lists. This will help you stay motivated and on-task. 
    • Most importantly, plan ahead and avoid procrastination. Strive to complete everything early; you’ll thank yourself later!

    College application checklist

    How can you apply to multiple colleges while best keeping track of deadlines? The best way to stay organized throughout the college application process is to make lists and calendars for yourself. 

    Use the college application checklist below as a helpful starting point. There are likely items you’ll want to add to the list. Feel free to personalize it to best suit your needs. You’ll also want to list relevant dates and deadlines with each item on your list. 

    There are lots of steps involved in the college application process. The best way to stay organized and meet deadlines is to clearly understand what is expected of you. Then make manageable to-do lists for yourself to help you stay on track. It’s especially important to plan ahead by scheduling your SAT/ACT, college visits, and any college interview you may have. 

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    Hopefully, after juggling important dates and deadlines, come spring, your next question will be: what to do when you get accepted into multiple colleges? Until then, regardless of where you are in the college application process, you may benefit from hiring a college counselor. Whether you need assistance writing a successful college essay or are wondering the best way to study for the SATs, here at Prepory, we have the resources to help you succeed. If you feel like you could benefit from professional assistance and insight into the college application process, reach out to learn more about our services.

    Contact a Prepory college admissions coach and start your college admissions journey.

    Our college admissions experts are here to guide you from where you are to where you should be. Through our comprehensive curriculum, individualized coaching, and online workshops, you are set for success as soon as you connect with us.

    During our initial consultation, we will: 

    • Assess your student’s applicant profile and higher education goals 
    • Provide detailed information about our services and programming
    • Share tips on how to navigate the U.S. college admissions process 

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