The College Application Process

By Carla Palffy, M.Ed, LPC

Q. My child is a high school senior and we have not started the college application process because he is so busy with school and activities. I am starting to panic.

A. It is never too late to get started, and while, yes it is always best to plan ahead, you can rest assured that you are among many families in the same boat and there is no need to panic. For seniors, it is time to stop procrastinating. Ask for help from your parents, your school counselor, or an independent college counselor. Application deadlines range from early November to March according to each school’s admission process. Missing deadlines is non-negotiable with college admissions.

Q. Why are students already applying in September and October?

A. Many schools, including the U of M and MSU have “rolling” admissions where they begin to review and consider applicants on a first come, first served basis. As colleges begin to offer admission to applicants, the number of spots available dwindles over time, making it more difficult to gain acceptance, even for a more competitive applicant.

Q. What can I do this week?

  • Finalize a list of 6-8 colleges that match your interests, abilities, and financial parameters. or (A Grosse Pointe Schools web tool) are good websites to research and compare school criteria. Don’t panic if your grades or test scores are not where you had hoped, there are so many great colleges and universities to consider, in addition to schools that do not require submitting test scores (
  • Create your high school resume. A resume can be mailed as a part of your college application. The resume will also help your counselor and teacher gain personal insight when writing your letters of recommendation. If a teacher recommendation is not required, send one anyway.
  • Write a personal statement. A personal statement is an essay which allows the admissions officer to learn something about you not detailed in your application, in addition to your opportunity to showcase your writing skills. Even when “optional”, this is an asset that strengthens your application.
  • Clean up your Facebook site and/or MySpace today. The content should be suitable for your grandmother. College admissions officers report checking social-networking sites, typically when an application is at the margin, there are red flags, or in a few cases when they receive anonymous pictures from competing applicants. Remove any offensive language, inappropriate photographs, and any references to illegal behavior or negative college comments from your site. Just because you have your site blocked for “friends only”, with current technology, you should assume that everything you post could become public.

Carla Palffy, M.Ed, LPC is a licensed MI guidance counselor, founder of College Prep Rx consulting, providing professional guidance for students and families preparing for college admissions. For more information visit

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