Procrastination is not a great strategy for completing your college applications—or anything else, for that matter.
Of course, you may need time to think about how to best present yourself in writing. It’s also understandable if sometimes you need to take a short break from all things college-related.
However, this does not mean that waiting until the mood strikes you (inevitably 30 minutes before the deadline) is the most productive approach.
1. Admissions officers can tell when you’ve procrastinated. And it won’t help you look like a responsible student.
Sometime students claim to be impressed with what they can pull off at the last minute. However, admission officers will sense that your application is lacking in foresight and substantive effort.
Remember: they have read hundreds of applications and can tell when students are trying hard.
Application deadlines are usually set months after materials first become available. Readers will wonder why you weren’t able to take advantage of the considerable time allotted to you, and your procrastination will make them think that you are not a responsible student. Furthermore, your ability to present yourself as genuinely and thoughtfully as possible will suffer, and the college may not get a solid grasp on who you are and what you have to offer to their community.
2. The Internet is not always reliable.
If you are submitting at the last minute, you’re unlikely to be the only student doing so. Submitting online at the same time as tens of thousands of other students makes you vulnerable to Internet troubles, uploading problems, and system failures.
3. You might make a mistake.
As you rush to finish up your application, you are more likely to make mistakes or miss areas to correct. Those little details are very important to admission officers. If you forget to spell check or remove track changes, it will reflect poorly on your application as a whole.
4. You deserve to feel good about your application.
Perhaps the most important reason to be timely with your application is this: it gives you the chance to relax about the process.
Being timely doesn’t mean that you won’t be working on finishing touches in late December. However, it does mean that you will be responsible enough in compiling your application that you feel confident about your work.
You deserve to be proud of what you have submitted, and you deserve to relax when it is all done.
5. As you prepare to start your college career, you should set high precedents for yourself.
As you enter college, you are also entering adulthood. Getting into the habit of procrastinating can be detrimental not only to your studies, but also to other life goals and relationships.
“So much of what makes people happy or unhappy—their level of fulfillment and satisfaction, their self-esteem, the regrets they carry with them, the amount of free time they have to dedicate to their relationships—is severely affected by procrastination. So it’s worthy of being taken dead seriously, and the time to start improving is now.”
— Tim Urban, whybutwait.com
Whether you’re building up a career as an entrepreneur or spending time with family, life is full of important things to do, and procrastination will not help you to get them done. Blogger Tim Urban talks about this at length in his TED Talk “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator.”
If you are suffering from procrastination, here are a few tips to get back on track:
- Go outside to write rough drafts in a notebook.
According to College Confidential, 74% of students suffer from procrastination because of the Internet. So get some distance.
Leave behind your phone and laptop, opt for a pencil, and go somewhere quiet.
- Break tasks up into manageable chunks.
You don’t have to write and submit your whole application in one day. Take it one step at a time.
- Hold yourself accountable.
Whether by setting daily goals or asking your friends to nag you, being responsible to someone or something can help you make progress.
If you make use of all the time you have and avoid procrastination, you will experience the feeling of considerable accomplishment and relaxation when you finally click “submit.”
A Note to Parents: As you encourage your student to complete their college applications, you want to feel confident that they are making the best use of their time. Though you probably remind them to keep up-to-date on their work, it might help for them to hear an outside perspective. Hopefully this post will give your student a good sense of the pitfalls of procrastination.