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College Admissions Success: Only 5 Minutes Per Day!

by Carol Barash, PhD, on Jan 28, 2015 3:15:00 PM

It is not too early to start thinking about applying to college in the fall!  Slowly and perniciously, the deadline for serious college applicants is moving back from December 31 to November 1. That’s two months less to complete your applications! What can you do now to stay above water?

1. Planning

Planning is one of the great things you can learn from the college admissions process.  Put all your immovable dates and deadlines in your iCal or G-cal and spread the work between now and November, so you aren’t behind the eight ball next fall: standardized tests; athletic events and musical performances; completing the Common Application (including all the essays and supplements); FAFSA and financial aid planning. Then take five minutes a day to put all your school assignments and other commitments into that same calendar and make sure there’s time for everything. (If you don’t have enough time, you’re not alone; see #4 below.)

2. Get Standardized Tests Done this Spring

Research shows that students who study iteratively, learn better. Figure out if you are better at the ACT or SAT (you don’t need to take both) with an SAT vs. ACT diagnostic, and study for that test with sample problems 5 minutes a day from our friends at GrockIt.

3. Do the Next Step

Big projects feel less overwhelming, when they are broken down into smaller pieces. Take one of your big overwhelming projects, and take five minutes to break it down into a series of manageable steps with smaller due dates on the way to the final deadline. Remember: you only have to do the next step, not all of them at once.

4. Do Fewer Things and Do them Better

Most high school students I talk to have zillions of different things on their schedule. By junior year, it’s much more important to do a few things really well--showing your creativity, commitment, and leadership--than to rack up a laundry list of activities where you simply show up. When in doubt, take five minutes to focus on your priorities and let the less important things go.

5. Write and Reflect Daily

Admissions officers say that students’ essays--the place where you can distinguish yourself from thousands of students who all have strong grades, test scores, and extracurricular achievements--lack the sense of authenticity and self-reflection that makes essays successful. Starting a journal to reflect on your experiences, solve problems, and move forward, and capturing the details of everyday life in writing even five minutes a day will get you ready for essay prep, and you’ll feel better too!

Explore your stories and tell them out loud. It helps you destress, and also gives you a leg up on those critical essays. Ready to get started?

Check out the Story2 online Topic Generators, and discover your unique stories today.

Topics:college admission