School is about to begin, if it hasn't already. Seniors: are you ready?

A close colleague of mine recently coined the term "The Labor Day Divide" to describe a phenomenon that roughly coincides with the start of senior year.

New seniors split fairly neatly into two camps: those who have crossed off most of their Summer College Checklist...and those who have barely begun.

The divide becomes most evident toward the beginning of November when Early Application deadlines ...and it's not a pretty picture (such as the one below) for Camp #2.

Credit: Jeff Drahota / USFWS

Credit: Jeff Drahota / USFWS

It's never too late, though, and we still have time before Labor Day. Check your college task list against this one:

  1. Identify Academic, Social & Personal Goals: these will guide every choice you make through applications and college itself
  2. Free Associate & Build Out Initial College List: as many as 20+ schools that you can later slim down
  3. Create a Personalized List of Essential College Questions: use it to direct your research
  4. Develop Your Brag Sheet & Info Packets for Recommenders: your rec letters are a crucial part of establishing your credibility, so give your recommenders the ammunition they need!
  5. Build Your Activities List & Student Resume: clarify your skills & abilities, making sure you’re ready for any opportunity
  6. Start Demonstrating Interest: keep a correspondence log to ensure that every college knows who you are before applying
  7. Personal Statement & UC Insight Questions: capture your unique essence in a strong draft that you can adapt to different prompts
  8. Why Us? Template: most colleges ask why the fit is right, so start with what you’ll bring to the table
  9. Balance the College List: ideally 6 - 10 total applications, anchor, target & reach
  10. Home Stretch: week-by-week application task due dates for fall
  11. Research affordability: estimate Expected Family Contribution, run the Net Price Calculator for individual colleges, research merit aid & scholarships