• India’s most comprehensive parenting portal, with excerpts from ParentEdge – India’s leading parenting magazine

Planning your Milestones for Application Season

Remember also that first drafts are usually bad. The story will get better in the “retelling” of the story. Which means that we have to start somewhere. If you are procrastinating or hitting “writer’s block” here are some strategies:

  • Know that first drafts are usually bad, so take the pressure off yourself and realize that you are only sitting down to write the “crappy draft”. From there you will re-tell the story until you reach a good polished draft.
  • Pick two times a week that you will work on your essays. This leaves the rest of the week to be “guilt free” and focuses your attention to those sacred hours that you have assigned yourself.
  • If you are having trouble writing one essay, then write five essays! I know that sounds glib, but seriously, just telling yourself you will write five actually takes the pressure off and often you find something interesting in one of them.

“The Prepared Senior” has already worked on 1-2 potential stories/first drafts of their Common App main essay at this point. Some are nearly at Final Drafts already!

4. Applications and School Recommendations: As mentioned, you should have created application accounts on Common Application and also on any colleges that have their own applications at this point. Good idea to keep one document for all of your usernames and passwords, or use some system like 1Password or LastPass to save these. It is also time to start thinking of approaching the teachers that you would like to ask for recommendations. Hopefully your school will be doing this online, so you will invite them through the Common Application. Get your teachers’ email addresses and let them know that you will be inviting them after they have agreed to write you letters. Generally speaking it is good to approach one teacher in Math or Science and one teacher in English or Social Science.

“The Prepared Senior” approaches their teachers with some specific extracurriculars that their teacher is aware that the student has done. Also she/he thinks about some good examples where she/he has excelled in that class, been commended, helped others, applied the subject to research/internship outside of school or taken the interest in the subject outside of the curriculum. These specific examples are what make effective recommendations.

5. UK Schools and the UCAS Application:

For those of you who are applying to the UK, you should have started to think about these questions as they are mainly what the Personal Statement is all about: What do I want to study? What has prepared me to study this? What would I like to do career-wise that requires this academic preparation?


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Prab Singh heads CollegeSource (http://thecollegesource.net/), an organisation that provides life coaching to adolescents and support to their family through the process of deciding their higher education and career goals.

One thought on “Planning your Milestones for Application Season

  1. Sudha Kumar

    To corroborate what Prab says, getting an early start and sticking to a plan really help. This is especially important if you are targeting many colleges and those that have essays beyond the Common App. Also, the essay writing is the most ‘hyped’ part of the app and most kids sweat a lot over it. So spacing it out, having time for reviews and rewrites and if need be even changing the topic is a must.

    Also, making sure that all aspects of the app are addressed equally well is important- for example, ensure that you identify the right teachers for the reco and that the student has updated the teacher on all his/her activities. In international schools, teachers do a lot of recos and we must try and make sure your child’s reco does not get lifted off a template but is instead more tailored.

    Last, the activity list ( i think you can fill in up to 10 such) is also a great place to tell a story- rather than make it like a laundry list, think through how you can tell the college who you are.

    Unlike students in the US, most students from India will not have an opportunity to do a personal interview and/or visit a college and make an impression. So, paying attention to the details of the application can go a long way in enhancing your chances of admission.


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