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How to encourage my Procrastinating Student to Get Started on their College Applications

Oct 16, 2020

Some students have difficulty motivating themselves to work on their college applications. It’s a large undertaking, and it can be overwhelming. Senior year is academically demanding, and students might prioritize their school work over applications, because, well, December seems far away.

The truth is fall semester flies by, and students should start working on their applications as early as possible in order to write the strongest essays they can. Here’s some advice from our Senior Mentors on how to best avoid procrastination:



Get the hardest stuff done first and set simple, achievable goals. Think about creating incentives once you finish something and/or giving yourself rewards so you get positive reinforcement for your hard work!!!


Create a realistic calendar that you can use to get started. Then start. Start with one university and begin to feel more in control of the process. Be realistic with yourself and your workload. If it means working on applications for thirty minutes per day or two days per week, give yourself some structure, and hold yourself accountable to that structure. If you miss days or are feeling anxious then go back to your calendar and adjust.



Try to visualize your ideal future and outcome. Think about the relief you’ll feel when you submit your final application, or how excited you’ll feel when you get into your dream college. Conversely, think about how stressed you’ll feel if you wait until the last moment! When you have your most desired outcome clearly and constantly on your mind, it’s easier to stay motivated to stay on track with your goals.



Make a plan and stick to it! Build in rewards for completing a task or reaching a goal. It could be as mundane as taking a 30 minute walk outside or treating yourself to a nice meal. The college application process may seem really daunting, but starting step-by-step will help you to feel less stressed and overwhelmed.


Senior mentor Semira

Work on it piece by piece! The biggest way to undermine those proscrationatory urges is to trick yourself into making progress with tasks that don’t feel too intimidating. Scared to approach 8 supplements? Why not tackle 1 or two a week, focusing on researching school details on Monday, jotting down quick notes on Tuesday, sketching a short outline on Wednesday, making a rough draft on Thursday, and then polishing it on Friday? The more digestible the to-do list, the easier it will be to get started!


Focus on something positive about your future. If you tell yourself that you’re writing college apps in order to talk about your passion to solve world hunger or become a practicing lawyer, then the process becomes less about the stress of writing applications and more about your personal dreams and aspirations. Put your mind on something positive that is super important to you and know that you are writing your apps as a small stepping stone to achieve a greater cause.



Have your student map out a plan and calendar to complete all of their applications, and then have them share it with you. The fact that they have committed to and publicized this plan is added incentive not to fall short. They have someone else counting on them. The best part is that they made the plan/deadlines themselves so they have complete control.


Senior Mento Anais


Count the weeks between now and January 1st. Determine how many supplements you will need to complete each week in order to comfortably finish writing your applications. Counting how much time you have remaining will help you understand the importance of completing your work!

We hope some of these pieces of advice will help you as you work through the college application process. Good luck!!

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