School is starting back up. If it's the start of your senior year, you still have a few months to take care of your applications, right? 

But have you thought about how many weeks you have to apply?

Let me throw a few numbers at you:

  • Most early applications (both Early Decision and Early Action) have submission deadlines of November 1st. That's only about eight weeks after Labor Day.
  • For those applying to California schools, the UCs and CSUs have a submission deadline of November 30th. That's about thirteen weeks after Labor Day.
  • Then, many students' regular decision deadlines fall on January 1st. That's about seventeen weeks after Labor Day.

Thinking in terms of weeks really helps to put things into perspective, right? You just never have quite as long as you might think you do. 

But here is how you can use this perspective to your advantage: map out a week-by-week schedule of all deadlines and application tasks on your to-do list through the rest of the fall.

It's a tool I refer to as the Home Stretch.

Here's a glimpse at one student's Home Stretch as he starts to flesh it out:

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Here are the steps to start your personal Home Stretch timeline:

  1. Open up a blank document and make a list of every week from now through next January (or later, if you have deadlines that fall past that window). Label each with the first or last day of the week, whatever you prefer.

  2. Add all major exams, travel, shows, other commitments that you know of this fall. (Keeping your personal calendar and any of your classes syllabi on hand makes this part much easier.)

  3. Add all of your colleges' application deadlines.

  4. Choose a date by which you intend to finish ALL of your application work.

  5. Choose your intended submission date for each college application — make sure it's at least 3 - 7 days before the actual deadline in case anything is missing.

  6. Make a to-do list at the very top of all the supplements and word counts. Make sure to include items from the Summer College Checklist if you have not already completed them.

From there, you'll want to work backward, breaking each task into the smallest, most manageable pieces possible, and spreading those sub-tasks across the weeks. 

Not sure how to break down the writing supplements? Be sure to check out the next CCP blog — we'll get into the five phases of writing so that you can stay on top of everything this fall!

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