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  • Writer's pictureAllison Styffe

College Apps: five ways to stay on track

If it's your senior year, then classes and graduation likely aren't the only thing taking up space in the part of your brain labeled "academics." It is officially college application season — this year's Common App became available in August, the FAFSA opens up next month, and some college applications are due as soon as November 1st. So if you haven't already, it's time to start narrowing your college list, writing essays, requesting letters of recommendation, and more. As you jump into this exciting (albeit overwhelming) journey, we're here to suggest five ways to stay on track as you complete your college applications:


1. Use a checklist

Each month there are important steps that could and should be completed in order to keep up with college application requirements. We've created this checklist for you to use, and there are dozens more out there that can be found with a simple Google search. Pick one that suits you; ours is majorly simplified, but there are plenty out there with more detailed to-do's. Print it out, save it as your desktop background, put the items in your calendar — do whatever you need to do to ensure you're leaping over the major hurdles in this race rather than tripping up and feeling behind from the get-go.


2. Stay organized

Even the world's best entrance essay or most flattering recommendation letter won't earn you a college acceptance if other elements of your application are missing. Or, worse yet, the deadlines have passed without hitting "submit."

A checklist is only one of many ways to stay organized throughout this journey. Check out last September's blog post, where we shared three more incredibly helpful organization tools to use: a deadline calendar, an application organizer, and a personal cheat sheet.


3. Set a regular time to work on apps

Whatever you do, don't try to start and finish an entire application in one sitting. Maybe it's every-other weeknight, each Sunday afternoon, or 30 minutes a day. You know what works best for you, but no matter what that is, make sure you have a regular, guaranteed time to make progress on your college apps. Go to the same place each time — a favorite coffee shop, your local library, the dining-room table — and get to work. Invite an adult to join you sometimes, too, whether that's a writing center tutor to read over your essays, a parent to help you fill out financial-aid information, or your college counselor to get a second-look at things before hitting "submit."


4. Attend helpful events & webinars

Experts are out there, eager to help you succeed on this journey. In fact, we keep a calendar on our website with all sorts of events and webinars hosted by various companies and counselors who specialize in college admissions. Check it regularly to see if there are any sessions that would be helpful to attend.

Also, through our Ready, Set, College! webinar series, the Baker College/Career counselors will be guiding seniors and families through the college application process, so join us every other Tuesday this fall at 6pm —

September 28th: How to Pay for College
  • Join experts across Oregon as they explain the financial aid process, including the FAFSA application. Click here to register.

October 12th: College Apps, Step-by-Step
  • The Baker College & Career Counselors will walk you through each aspect of the college applications you’ll be filling out this fall. Email me for Zoom link & password.

October 26th: Making the Most of Your Essays
  • This week, we’ll share how to write the kinds of essays admissions counselors actually want to read. Email me for Zoom link & password.

November 9th: Scholarships 101
  • We’re going to break down the best places to find scholarships and how to work smarter, rather than harder, as you apply for them. Email me for Zoom link & password.


5. Meet with your college/career counselor

Did you know all Baker students have their very own college & career counselor? We are here to be your guide and cheerleader through this college application process. Whether you need help deciding which major to pursue, have questions about the nitty-gritties on the Common App, don't quite understand how financial aid works, want another set of eyes to read over your essays — we're here for that, and more!

Don't ever hesitate to reach out or schedule a time to chat. Allison Styffe (that's me!) works with BEC students in Central, Southern, or Eastern Oregon, and Jennifer Tracewell is your go-to-gal if you're a BWA student or BEC in Portland, Salem, or Eugene. We look forward to meeting with you and helping you reach your goals!

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