The Superpower of Planning in College Admissions: A Jumpstart for Juniors

If you are heading into the spring of eleventh grade, the time to start working (calmly) on college admissions is now. College admissions is one of those things that gets easier with practice, and key parts of the process benefit from doing the work over a longer period of time.

Every spring I lament the wonderful students who misunderstood and then underperformed their opportunities in college admissions. Any of these sound like you?

  • The Shopper: If you think that picking a college is like buying a pair of jeans, so you try a bunch until find the right fit, there’s a less expensive, more direct path.
  • The Form Filler: If you think any part of college admissions can be done well on auto-pilot, learn how it really works.
  • The Procrastinator: If you tend to leave your most important work to the last minute, here’s your chance to break that habit once and for all.

Successful college applications are built on the foundation of distributed work and planning–the whole way through junior spring and senior fall–and most students don’t know how to manage that part of the process.

Sensing their children’s overwhelm, some of the ways parents try to help (making things safe, jumping in to help, focusing on fear), actually make things worse. And with so many choices in the path from school to work, discussions about college are often intertwined with two tough questions: which colleges will help me build my career? Which colleges can my family afford?

If you look at college with an eye to value, completing college is still one of your best ways to improve your long-term professional opportunities and income potential. Although the Higher Ed landscape is changing rapidly, there are still many great colleges for students with reasonable grades–and often they have excellent honors programs and merit scholarships.

If you plan now, you can take the critical steps, one by one and in order, and avoid the crunch (and disappointment) that many seniors are experiencing right now.

Here are three steps to jumpstart the Superpower of Planning:

  • Plan out junior year and senior fall now, and put key dates in your calendar
  • Treat college applications as a process and a chance to learn about yourself
    • Build a School + Career Matrix
    • Look for Academic, Social + Emotional Fit
    • Do fewer things and do them better junior year
  • Take advantage of Early applications

We’ll cover it all in our monthly ebooks and webinars, step by step, and help you build your strongest story to college.


Carol Barash, PhD, award-winning author, teacher and entrepreneur transforms lives and writing through storytelling. Founder and CEO of Story2, Carol has taught more than 70,000 students how to gain admission and scholarships to selective colleges. Have questions about storytelling, college admissions and life choices? Ask me anything on Twitter @carolbarash.

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