Hello Admissions Family, 

Yahoo! Let’s get this party started! Common App, Apply Texas, Scoir/Coalition, and UC System apps are now all officially open!!! Now, does that mean that we need to be in a rush and get everything done right away? Absolutely not! It just means that we can now get on the application platforms, confirm deadlines and supplemental essays, and really get moving forward with our organizational spreadsheets and timelines. Yes indeed, exciting times!!!

To those of you who’ve already been reading my posts (and the other amazing posts on here, big props to you!! Some of this is a repeat of my mid-July Reminders, but it’s all really important, so I just want to make sure we are all on the same page.

Warning: these monthly reminders are loooooong… and there’s a lot of information. It’s all stuff we might have discussed or even done, but I just wanted you (and your parents) to see if all written out, so if there’s anywhere you need to catch up on, you can know. 

COLLEGE-ONLY EMAIL ADDRESS: Make a college-only email address if you haven’t already. I suggest firstname.lastname.college@gmail.com. Use that to request info from all the colleges on your list or that you’re considering so far. And use it to create your Common App account, and any other platforms you’ll be using, like Apply Texas, Scoir/Coalition Account, and UC apps. Do not use this email address for anything other than college admissions! You will be overwhelmed by emails and it needs to be easy to find info from colleges. Students, I suggest giving your parents access to this email address so they can help you stay on top of info from colleges!

FINISH UP TESTING: If you’re not satisfied with your test scores and you’d like to test again (or for the first time), try to get that finished up early this fall. Remember many colleges will remain test-optional for this year, so that’s always an option for you.  

REQUEST INFO: If you haven’t yet, request info from every college you’re applying to — also request info from honors programs and specific majors. Use your college email address.

SPAM EMAIL FOLDER: Get in the habit of checking your spam folders regularly. Students often miss important messages from colleges in those folders. Parents, try to help out with this. If you’re not on your child’s email that they’re using for admissions, be sure to remind them to check regularly. Often, they’ll send info about specific dates and deadlines that aren’t published on Common APP. 

THINK ABOUT YOUR COLLEGE LIST:  Plan to have at least 3 colleges where your likelihood of acceptance is high — or guaranteed — and you can afford it (parents, it’s your job to do the Net Price Calculators for this) and you like it and can happily see yourself there. There’s nothing worse than being shut out from all your highly selective/rejective colleges and being left without choices. We will be working on finding these colleges for you. 

ORGANIZING YOUR LIST: Use a College Organizer Spreadsheet (here’s mine) and get organized with all the dates your apps are due and the different types of supplemental essays each college requires. Be sure to go through the Common App College Page carefully; colleges often hide supplemental essays in the form of 200 word “questions.”  Take note of the word count for each essay, and also note on your spreadsheet whether the college will take a resume and if they require/allow interviews – and if there’s a deadline for signing up for interviews. 

ORGANIZE YOUR SUPPLEMENTS: I suggest making a folder for each college you’re applying to in your Supplemental Essay Resources Folder. Inside that, make a document where you copy and paste each Supplemental Essay topic and Word Count.

 VIRTUAL AND LIVE VISITS AND TOURS: Go on a college tour and info session hosted by the college for every college you’re applying to. Be sure to sign up with your college email. If you’re planning to apply to Plan 2 at UT Austin or other honors programs (especially at UT Austin), be sure to go on those tours too. Take notes! You’ll want to mention something specific from the tour in your supplemental essays.

  • GEORGIA PEACH STATE TOUR: If you’re applying to Georgia Tech, U Georgia, Augusta, or Georgia State, be sure to sign up for one of the sessions — they’re offering both virtual and live tours. Here’s the link.

SENIOR YEAR COURSE LIST: Make sure your senior year course list has all the courses you need for the colleges you’re applying to. Most highly selective colleges like to see: 4 years of English, 4 years of Science (including Bio, Chem, and Physics), 4 years of History or Social Science, 4 years of Math (with Calculus), and 4 years of Foreign Language. If you don’t have these, check the recommended course lists for the colleges you’re applying to. TIP: If you need a course, you could possibly do a one-semester next spring either at your school or at Community College, but you’ll need to be signed up for it to list it on your application. 

COMMON APP, SCOIR/COALITION, UC APP, APPLY TEXAS, and any other platform you’re using: Start filling out the basic information if you haven’t yet. For Apply Texas, you only need to fill it out once for your first school, then when you’ve completed that application, you copy it to start your second school.  Use your college email for this.

LOOKING AHEAD — SOME IN-HOUSE DEADLINES YOU MIGHT WANT TO CREATE: This can help you with planning as you think more about the fall semester.

  • TAMU (Business): before September 1
  • TAMU (Engineering), Georgia, UNC, Georgia Tech: before October 1
  • UT Austin and TAMU (non Biz or engineering): Before October 15
  • SCEA/ED/EA/Priority Deadlines in November: before October 15
  • UC Schools/CSU/Priority Deadlines of Nov 30/ Dec 1: November 15
  • RD Schools: Completed and ready to go by December 15. If you don’t need them because you get in ED, then no need to send them, but they need to be ready. 

BOOKS: Time to Research and Read! If you haven’t yet gotten these books, I suggest you start reading them now: The Fiske Guide to College Admissions, Colleges That Change Lives, and Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be.

MY FULL TIMELINE: If you want a broader view of everything you need to be doing, check out my Rising Junior and Senior Admissions Journey Timeline.

BREATHE: Take time to sit back and take a big deep breath. You’re not running a race here, and for most of the colleges on your list, you have plenty of time. Remember to focus on where you are in the process – not where you think you should be or where your friends are or the others you see here on A2C. And YOU’ve got this!


  • Net Price Calculators: start exploring net price calculators on college web pages so you can see what works best for your family in determining costs. Before a school’s finalized on your child’s list, make sure it’s in the range of affordability by using the net price calculator on the college’s website. If it’s not and they don’t offer merit scholarships, I suggest taking it off the list. You really don’t want to saddle your child with debt if it’s unnecessary.

Also, here are my thoughts about having Beginner’s Mind from July’s Reminders. I thought they might still be useful: 

A BEGINNER’S MIND: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we all think we know so much about different things. It’s like information overload these days because data is so easily accessible to us, not to mention rumors and advice from friends, teachers, and family. I’m a teacher, so I pride myself on knowing a lot about whatever I’m teaching, whether it’s writing essays, filling out apps, or making college lists, but I know that whenever I approach a meeting — or a post on Facebook or Reddit from someone else involved in admissions in any way — and I don’t acknowledge that I have a lot to learn — then I am missing out and so are my students. I’ve been teaching writing for over 30 years now, and I still learn all the time about approaches to the personal essay and ways to teach it.

And you know what? You might already know a lot about college admissions and writing essays, but I’d like for you to approach this time as a time to learn more about college admissions and essays — and more about yourself. For many college applicants, this is the first time you’ve really sat down and thought about what’s important to you, what you care about, what you worry about, what you want, so approach you — yourself — with an open mind as you explore this crazy, exciting, fascinating world of college admissions.