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When's the Best Time to Start College Counseling?

College applications are due in December -- very early January, if you're pushing it -- of your senior year. They're due in October if you're applying Early Action or Early Decision. So, how long does it take to get the applications ready? And if you think you might ask for help, when is the best time to talk to a college counselor?

If applications were as simple as filling in blanks, maybe it would take a month and you could start in September. But, you probably know, in the U.S. there are more than a few extra hurdles beyond sending in your grades in school: Forget the personal statement and the UC Personal Insight Questions, because you've got college-specific supplement essays, maybe twenty or more of them; and you've also got materials to gather, like recommendations, transcripts, and score reports. This isn't all, unless your application looks just the way you want it to look and you wouldn't want any guidance ahead of time to help you strengthen your course schedule, extracurricular resume, and list of honors/awards.

My College Torch college counseling programs actually guide students to start developing into competitive college applicants as young as sixth grade, but if you're a high school upperclassman feeling application anxiety, a great time to start the College Application program is in January of your junior year. Having January to May to make some changes in your schedule in and out of school can have a big impact on the success of your applications. But if you miss that window, starting in June still gives you the summer to work with a counselor on your personal statement and four UC essays.

If the fall hits you and your applications seem suddenly due, don't give up hope. A college counselor will help you structure the time you've got left and make the most of your effort while every hour counts.

Lastly, don't say au revoir to your counselor as soon as you press Submit and send your application off to your dream schools. Your counselor can be a resource to help you achieve second semester goals (yes, these are a thing!) and can help you wisely and tactfully reply to correspondence from your favorite colleges when you need to.

And in April, you bet we want to celebrate with you!

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