Summer College Checklist #10: Set Up for the Home Stretch

If you have been keeping on top of your Summer College Checklist to this point, then you’re on a serious roll.

Really — we mean it. It’s about to pay off in a big way.

With your core application tasks out of the way, it’s time to move onto the next phase, which we fondly refer to as the Home Stretch.

The Home Stretch is about mapping out your individual colleges’ application tasks all the way through hitting the SUBMIT button.

The idea is that, by working backward from your various deadlines, you’ll create a detailed, week-by-week plan for what needs to happen when.

That way, you’ll eliminate the guesswork, work around your other commitments, minimize the energy required to plan as you go along, and stay several steps ahead of the process throughout the fall.

Here’s how we suggest approaching the Home Stretch:

  1. Gather all of your colleges’ deadlines and supplemental application requirements into one document. By this time, most colleges have updated their requirements for this upcoming admissions cycle.

  2. On the same document, list every week from now through your final submission deadline (we generally use the format “WEEK BEGINNING MONDAY 8/27”).

  3. Add your colleges’ deadlines to the appropriate weeks. Then add any major commitments in your classes (e.g., exams or papers), your extracurricular activities (e.g., tournaments or performances), or the rest of your life (e.g., taking the SAT or family travel).

  4. Set your own deadlines to submit individual applications. We suggest submitting each application at least a week before its official deadline just in case the college needs to request anything that’s missing.

  5. Work backward, breaking each task into as small of subtasks as you can. For example, if you need to write a 650-word “Why Us?” supplemental response for one of your colleges, plan the writing process in stages: brainstorm, draft, edit, get feedback, revise (and repeat as necessary), polish.

  6. Build in some flexibility, and set aside 15 or 20 minutes each week to adjust your Home Stretch as needed. Virtually none of us are able to 100% stick to the plan as it was originally laid out — things happen. Shuffle items and update your commitments as needed — just make sure you’re doing it at regular intervals.

Keep up the great work! Don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help in any way with keeping everything on track.