Last-Minute Tips for Teens Finishing College Applications on New Year’s Eve

With so many college application deadlines falling on Jan. 1, many high schoolers will find themselves finishing last-minute application to-dos rather than celebrating the new year. If you’re a student in that situation, follow the tips below to ensure that you begin the new year successfully with your college applications.

Revise Your List of Prospective Colleges

Believe it or not, the end of the year may be a great time to reconsider a few of the colleges you plan to apply to.

If you think your chances of being accepted to a particular school are extremely low, it may be smart to cross it off your college list. After all, each college application constitutes a significant investment of your rapidly dwindling time and also costs money, so it is advisable to invest in applications with higher odds of yielding you a favorable outcome.

[READ: College Students Share Tips for Applying to Reach Schools.]

Eliminating schools from your list may make you uneasy. Understandably, every student wants to be sure they are accepted somewhere and have at least a couple of options to choose from. But don’t worry there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of colleges with application deadlines extending as late as May and sometimes even into the summer.

As you update your list of prospective colleges, replace unrealistic ones with those that have later final deadlines. That will give you time to do more research and ultimately select schools that align better with your profile.

Find Out About Possible Extensions

As Jan. 1 looms and your application to-do list remains full, it can be worthwhile to find out about potential deadline extensions. Some colleges are flexible and will allow applicants with special requests to submit their materials a few days late. Contact the admissions office of the schools on your list as soon as possible to find out.

Just be aware of two important points. First, not all schools are lenient, especially not the extremely competitive ones. Second, you may need to provide a good reason for requesting an extension.

Make a Checklist of To-Dos

Large tasks such as finishing college applications become more manageable when they are broken down into smaller tasks, such as finalizing a resume or proofreading supplemental essays.

[Read: How to Write a Supplemental Essay for College Applications.]

For each application you will send, make a numbered or bullet-pointed list of exactly what you still need to accomplish. Then, prioritize each item by importance and the amount of time it requires.

To stay organized, try making an Excel spreadsheet where you keep track of everything. Update it daily, too, so you do not get confused about your progress.

Additionally, set alarms and reminders for yourself throughout the day. Without successful time management, you could quickly fall behind on your applications. Every hour counts.

Have Someone Give Your Essays a Final Look

Typos, missing punctuation marks and other technical mistakes can leave a negative impression on college admissions counselors. Avoid raising the eyebrows of your application readers by finding at least one more set of eyes to look your essays over. It may help to tell your reader or readers what kind of mistakes you want them to focus on, such as comma usage, capitalization, transitions, etc.

Whomever you ask should have a firm knowledge of writing so that they can opine intelligently on your work. If the person or people are far away, send your essays virtually and consider using a digital collaboration tool like Google Docs. If they are closer to you, they may prefer to have the printed versions of the essays in front of them.

Whatever you do, be direct and polite about your deadlines, making sure that what you ask is reasonable given the holiday season.

Submit Your Materials With Time to Spare

Unless circumstances force you to turn in a college application at 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Day, it is best not to wait until the very last minute to press the submit button. Not only do you risk technical errors on your own side, such as an internet outage or computer reboot, but glitches can occur on the school’s side, as well, since their site may become inundated with users scrambling to meet the application deadline.

[READ: 5 Tips to Complete College Applications on Time.]

To avoid these glitches and their potential negative impact on your chance of admission, aim to submit all application materials at least a few hours before the deadline.

If you heed this last-minute advice, you can start the new year with relief, knowing your college applications have been successfully completed. And perhaps you can resolve to get even further ahead of college-related deadlines in the new year, too.

More from U.S. News

A Complete Guide to the College Application Process

College Application Deadlines That Extend Past May 1

The Common App: Everything You Need to Know

Last-Minute Tips for Teens Finishing College Applications on New Year?s Eve originally appeared on

Related Categories:

Latest News

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up