+ Start your applications early
I purposely wrote all of my essays and filled out all of my applications before October to make sure I was able to put in 100% effort before my workload got crazy. So many people were stressing out the week before the November 1 deadline (when most Early Action applications are due) and instead I was able to focus on my homework. It definitely stinks having to push through everything at the end of summer and the beginning of the school year, but trust me, you'll thank yourself later.
+ Have a college to-do list
Be sure to keep an ongoing list for each school with everything you have to do. For example, have a list of all the supplements you have to do, the teacher recommendation letters you need, the amount of money you have to send, etc. and divide it by school. You are definitely less likely to forget to submit or write something if you are aware of everything you have to do ahead of time.
+ Take advantage of your resources
We have an awesome college guidance department at my school, so luckily I didn't need to consider hiring an out of school college counselor to help me with essays. You definitely don't have to use a counselor, but it's wise to talk to knowledgable adults at your school to assure you are doing everything you need to be doing. Also, referencing older students is always great, especially if they are at the school you want to attend!
+ Use your weekends wisely
During the week, homework gets so crazy and unless you don't want to sleep at night, it isn't worth it to try to crank out supplementary essays during the week. I personally benefitted a lot by going to the library for a few hours on the weekend with no distractions to get stuff done. I also remember one Saturday night that I stayed in and sat at my kitchen counter until I finished all of my supplements (I didn't get up from my chair from 8:00 pm - 2:30 am but I got it all out of the way!). Basically, take advantage of your weekends when you have a clear mind to be productive.
+ Have a deadline calendar
I applied to 5 schools and I did Early Action on all of them (except 2 that were rolling) so a deadline calendar wasn't super applicable to my particular situation, but if you have a variety of dates when things are due, be sure to highlight important deadlines in your agenda to make sure you get everything in on time. Missing a deadline would be a terrible reason for not getting into a school!
+ Don't let other people's opinions sway your own
After going on a few college trips (a few with family and one with a friend and her mom), I've learned that it's critical to keep your opinions to yourself and not let other people's opinions determine your own. For example, I visited one of my favorite schools with a friend, and she didn't like it as much as I did, which caused me to think I wouldn't like it as much. It turns out that I wanted a bigger school and she wanted a smaller one, so it made sense why our opinions differed! Also, don't feel the need to share your thoughts on every school you are considering - everyone has different reasons for liking or disliking colleges, so don't feel discouraged or offended if you like a school and one of your friends doesn't.
+ Have your parents or teachers read over your essays
I cannot stress the importance of this enough: having many people take a look at your essays is so, so helpful. Even after reading over mine several times, printing it out and going through everything, having my dad and then my counselor both edit every essay I was submitting made such a significant difference. It's especially helpful if you are over a word limit and need help getting your essay to fewer words.
I know I basically wrote a novel for you, but keeping these things in mind will most definitely keep you sane throughout the stressful months of college applications. If you have any questions at all, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I would be happy to help you in any way I can!
And shoutout to the seniors out there - you've got this!