Now that school is back in full swing, you’ve probably begun (or will soon begin) receiving a fair share of college-related literature. This is true whether your child is just beginning 11th, 10th or even 9th grade.  And while all the college ‘noise’ can seem a nuisance in these early grades, it’s worth paying attention to now for at least two reasons.  The first: colleges are looking to engage underclassmen earlier and earlier, and they are tracking this engagement and then considering a student’s ‘demonstrated interest’ in their school in their admissions decisions.

But more importantly, sorting through all of the college requests, requirements, information, and unfortunately, misinformation for the first time when you’re child is a newly minted 12th grader, is going to render the process both overwhelming and exceedingly complex.  Which is why it is so important to make sure that you get an early start on the entire process, that your child is strategic and organized in her approach in the early years, and that as a family, you are getting reliable guidance throughout high school, but particularly in the Spring of 11th and Fall of 12th grade .  Missing a deadline, overlooking an email from an Admissions officer, and/or making a mistake regarding an application requirement can derail the Admissions chances of even the most qualified  student.  

Which brings me to the University of Florida Application, which officially ‘went live’ this weekend.

Last year UF made some changes to how it required students to submit their transcripts.  While this new ‘self reporting process’ streamlined the paper trail for overburdened guidance offices and for the University (which was good),  it had some unintended consequences for students, particularly those who were not paying close attention to their emails for subsequent verification requests and notices from UF.  (By the way, I recommend that all of my students set up, TEST and regularly check a defined college email account).

This year, you’ll notice that the UF application website has been completely revamped.  It’s got a new look (same ‘self-reporting’ requirement) andbrand new Essay topic.  And in case you didn’t realize, your UF application is due well before most applications are — as in a one and only deadline of NOVEMBER 1 (the transcript piece is due Dec 1).  I’m sharing this with you not to push you to apply to UF (though it’s a great option for many students), but to illustrate an important point.  Many schools tweak their processes from year-to-year.  And regardless, all schools have application requirements, deadlines and admissions processes that are unique to that particular school.  UF, for example,does not require any recommendations.  UM asks for one.   FSU has a priority application deadline of October 15 (which you should endeavor to meet); UCF is rolling – which means you could submit your application right now!  It is incumbent on you (as in your child) to identify, respond to and meet all application deadlines in an appropriate and timely manner.

That means that your 12th grader should already know more or less where she will be applying to college, who she’ll be asking for recommendations, if required (actually, check that – she should have already asked them).  At this point, your senior should know his high school’s process for sending transcripts – which means that he’s met with his guidance counselor to review his college list and has taken care of making all requests necessary to ensure that there will not be any last minute snafus with releasing his grades.   And for sure, your student should have started (and in many cases, nearly completed) many of his college essays, short answers and supplements.

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