Dear Procrastinator,

You did what you promised yourself you would not do—you procrastinated and now you need to complete your college applications over your holiday break. Rest assured that you are not alone in this as many of your peers are in the same boat.

1. Prioritize

The first thing that you need to do is to get organized. Look at which deadlines are early, which college applications will be harder, and which schools are your highest priority. Now as the days are passing, you should go through your list and cut the schools that are not on your radar anymore. You need to focus your time and energy on the college applications that matter most to you. This is certainly not permission to cut your backup schools, though. Your list should maintain its balance.

2. Create a schedule

Sit down and map out the remaining days until your applications are due. Write down which essays you will complete on which day. Give yourself a couple of days to review your essays and applications before the deadline.

3. Don’t skip a review

Once you have finished your college application and are ready to submit, review it thoroughly. Have your parents or a trusted advisor review it for you—just to catch any errors you might have missed or messages that you certainly do not intend to send. Don’t do a quick scan on the computer. Print it out, read through it, really scour it, and make sure it is as perfect as it can be. Remember that if you are submitting your application through the Common or Universal Application, there are three components to a complete college application: your application, the supplement, and the payment. Missing any one of those pieces will constitute an incomplete application.

Beyond the application itself, confirm that your letters of recommendations have been submitted, your test scores have been sent in through the official reporting agencies, and that all transcripts have been requested. You want your application to be complete as soon as possible. Admissions officers are unlikely to even see an application that is missing one of its core requirements.

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