There are many other advantages to finalizing your list earlier:
- If you know where you are applying, you can email them and find out if they are traveling to your city this year, or ask them about the potential for interviews. When you write to a college, they start a file on you to show interest. It cannot hurt that they see that your interest started early.
- You can make a comprehensive list of your college essays in one document. This will allow you to see all of your work in one place and begin to decide deadlines for yourself to complete each of them. This will allow you ample time for each and to go through multiple drafts.
- I notice that many students who have not finalized their lists early will second guess their lists as they get closer to deadlines, either putting on more selective schools or building on their safety schools. This has two negative effects, one is that you tend not to really know those schools, and the other is that you end up applying to too many schools.
- Many schools have earlier deadlines for merit-based scholarships. Unfortunately, these deadlines are not uniform, but having your list done early gives you time to check on these, or more importantly, finish all of your work early enough to meet any deadline!
- But most importantly, having your list done early allows you to focus your attention and energy on each of your schools and make each of them feel like they are your first choice. You should be applying to 2-3 that are a big stretch, 2-3 that are in your target range and 1-2 that are very safe. But all of them should understand why you would love to attend their institution, and why you would be a great fit.
I truly believe that this should not be a process filled with stress, but instead a confident journey to learning more about yourself. Finalizing your list of colleges early on is one more way to build that confidence.