Just like Wednesday is that time in the week when we are as far away from last weekend as we are from the next weekend, October is that month in the application season where we need to take stock of where we are in the process.
The ED Pitfall
Some of you may be applying through the Early Decision process or the Early Action Process. In September we talked about things to consider when applying for the binding option of Early Decision (http://parentedge.in/should-you-apply-early-decision/). Here, I just want to address a pitfall with this process that I have observed over the years. A student pours his heart out working on the ED application, often not working on any other application until it is finished and sent on November 1st. The student is proud and exhausted afterwards and takes a break for a couple weeks. Often students have some midterm exams at some later point in November that they then need to focus on. December 1st rolls around and now there are only 13 days till they find out the decision about the ED application. He cannot possibly concentrate on any other application with that decision so close! So he waits. Hopefully he will get good news. But if not, the worst time to be working on the rest of your applications would be after receiving bad news. So, my advice: Drive forward at this stage and complete ALL of your applications before December 1st. You need not send them out, but polish them up so that if bad news comes, all you have to do is press the Submit button on the remaining schools.
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
I wanted to write a quick note on your application essays at this stage. You have inevitably gone through several drafts and your original idea has matured into a cohesive and interesting story. But in the process, it may have gone through the careful attention of mom, dad, novelist uncle, English teacher, older sibling, etc. Have “you” been lost in those revisions? Read back through the essay and make sure that it still has that authentic voice. Would your essay still be returned to you if your name was not on the top and you left it in your school? Also, avoid using all of those big cumbersome vocabulary words that you learned for SAT, keep it simple and authentic; you are not fooling anyone, only Collegeboard likes those kinds of words!