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Trick or Treat? October Begins the College Admission Season: Here’s What to Remember

Pumpkins are everywhere. The weather is getting cooler. And college admissions exams and deadlines are looming. Sounds like October. Since the biggest treat this fall is getting a perfect score on the SAT or ACT, or receiving an acceptance letter from your top candidate university, you need to prepare so you don’t get tricked, or in other words, distracted from achieving your college admission goals. Today I will remind you of the important deadlines and events related to college admissions that are happening this month.

1) The old (or current) version of the SAT will be administered tomorrow, October 3.

Tomorrow marks the first SAT of the 2015-2016 school year. If you are taking the exam, remember to study smart. Don’t just blindly memorize high-level vocab or cram a bunch of practice problems. Think about your strengths and weaknesses, and since you have less than 24 hours to study, focus on ensuring your strengths will perform at their best on the exam. Also, treat your body well. You’d be amazed at how a few extra hours of sleep can give you a mental boost.

2) The New PSAT will be administered on October 16.

In a few weeks, students will take the New PSAT. The format is the same as the New SAT’s, which will be administered in March 2016. There are practice tests available online if you haven’t yet looked at the test. The reading is largely the same, but writing and math are different. Do not think that your practice with the old SAT format will be enough. If you want to do well, it is in your best interest to check out the changes.

3) Many universities have Early Decision and Early Action deadlines on November 1.

Universities offer students the option to apply early. These options come with different stipulations, so depending on your preferences, you can choose between Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA). ED plans are binding. The student must attend the university if he or she is accepted. EA plans are not binding, so the student can get accepted but still choose to attend another university. Depending on your preferences and the schools you want to attend, either plan can be beneficial. Just be sure to do the research and make sure, especially for ED, that you are making the right choice. While many people believe that applying to these programs is helpful because there are fewer student applicants, that is not always true. However, you do save the headache of applying to a bunch of schools at once. And you do receive acceptances or rejections early enough in the application season to possibly apply to other schools that didn't make your initial list.

For seniors, this is not the month to slack on your college admissions materials. Hopefully you have done a lot of work in September, maybe even over the summer, but if not, then you REALLY need to focus. Believe it or not, rounding up recommendation letters, polishing your resume, and most of all, penning college admission essays is incredibly time-consuming. While it is important to keep up with your studies, you should find time to balance other activities to get the admission materials ready. A bad admission package could prevent you from getting into a top school, regardless of how great your GPA or test scores are.

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