College Application Planning Schedule

9th Grade:

Work hard for your subjects
Try to figure what you like doing best. If you don’t know already, explore different interests, and identify possible areas that you might be passionate about.
Develop extracurricular activities (see our Extracurricular Activities page) that you find interesting, and learn more to develop a passion for them. No extracurricular activity is superior to another, so do what you actually find engaging and can possibly love.
Increase your aptitude in subjects that you are interested in by learning more about them, through not only reading beyond assigned readings, but also by participating in competitions, examinations, and conferences that can reflect that interest.
10th Grade:

Keep working hard for your subjects, and keep further delving into your interests and passions.
Start finding out more about the college application process, and about different colleges and different nations that you would like to be educated in.
Take the PSAT (not required, but can give you a good introduction on SAT.
11th Grade:

August – September:

Register for SAT I for either October of November.
Start preparing for SAT I. By the end of the preparation period, you should have ideally solved at least 15 papers, reviewed all the key vocabulary words, grammatical rules and mathematical concepts, and have a valid passport.
Attend college fairs and visits by different universities at your school. If your school/college does not hold such career fairs, you should find out about schools that hold them (e.g. Dhirubhai Ambani International School and Cathedral), send the college counselors an email requesting the information on the dates that universities would be attending for the term, and gather as much information about the universities through these fairs.
Continue with activities, and start exploring even more activities that you find interesting.

Study hard to get good grades! Your grades determine the kind of colleges that you will apply to, and more importantly, reflect your ambition and determination to colleges.
Begin your search for schools. Ask yourself questions: Do you want to live in a city, town, or rural village? How big do you want most of your classes to be? What kind of people do you find interesting? Start talking to advisors and students about life in different colleges. Remember once again, don’t run behind brand names, but instead, look for colleges where you would be happy and have the maximum potential to grow.
Discuss financial costs and colleges with parents. However, don’t let your parents’ choice influence you. Follow your dreams, and ensure that you pick the right range of colleges, where you would benefit most from the opportunities available.

Concentrate on your academics, and try to improve your academic level and grades. Take challenging courses or examinations that reflect your sincerity.
Take SAT I again, if necessary.

Keep the ball rolling! Ensure that your academic standard is not only maintained, but also raised. Moreover, probe deeper into your interests, and learn more about what you love.
Have lunch with your counselors, and favorite professors, and talk to them about your interests, as well as seek their advice on what colleges they believe would fit you best.

Register for Spring SAT I, and SAT IIs.
Keep your grades up!
Keep learning about different universities and opportunities.

Start thinking of how you want to spend your summer. You don’t necessarily need an internship in a big bank. Instead, seek opportunities where you can learn more, and develop your knowledge and interests. This could be in a small startup, or in a research lab, or just merely by travel and exploration. Try to find something where you could draw upon a great experience from, and tell a great story.
Continue your research into different schools, and characteristics that you want.
Request information from the colleges on their website. This depicts early interests, and can play a key role in differentiating candidates. Interests in the respective universities.

Construct your resume.
Continue college search,.

Take SAT I again, if necessary. Else, take SAT II in 2 subjects (most students take Mathematics and Chemistry, since the material is covered in most Indian colleges at a relatively early stage)
Ask teachers who are leaving for letters of recommendation. Write a thank you letter for anyone who has written this letter for you.
Make a summer reading list, especially for UK universities, where you can use your reading to draw upon you interest in a particular field.

Take SAT II either in 1 or 2 subjects.
Continue your summer plans!
July – August:

If possible, visit colleges. Try to soak in the atmosphere. Is it competitive and cutthroat, or is it laid back? Is it more pre-professional, or more hippie-based? Understand the character of the college, and determine where you want to go.
Request information from colleges through their websites, if you haven’t done so already.
Start brainstorming on ideas for your college essays. Jot down a couple of ideas. Write a few drafts, and think of what experiences in your life have really molded your character or your interests.
Start finalizing a list of colleges. After a lot of research and conversations with students, by the end of the summer, you should have a list of 5 – 15 colleges that you are interested in applying to.
12th Grade:


Meet with your high school counselor to not only ensure that you have all the requirements fulfilled to graduate, but also discuss and review your plan of action over the next few months. You are most definitely not bound to the colleges your high school counselor suggests, but you must attempt to learn more about all opinions to make an informed decision.
Start downloading applications. Never underestimate the number of essays you have to write! So start thinking about possible topics or ideas you could explore in order to illuminate on your best attributes.
Talk to more people. Research every college more. By the end of the month, you should have your list narrowed down to 10 colleges.
Develop your own timeline of dates that you want to accomplish tasks by (e.g. write first draft of essay by…., ask teacher for recommendation by… )
Collect all financial documents NOW (In India, your CA will have to figure out the several financial documents required for college applications, especially if you are applying for financial aid. It is always better to be early and get your documents ready, instead of running into last-minute stress!)

Register for October SAT II. You should have started preparing for it by now.
By now, you should have also asked 2 teachers to write you letters of recommendations. Take them out for lunch, and let them get to know you beyond the classroom. Tell them stories of the most interesting experiences you have had. Illustrate to them what subjects / fields of knowledge you are most passionate about. Also, let them know by when you want your letter ready.
Review your college choice and prepare a final list.
Continue your work on the essays. Ask your peers, counselor, parents and siblings to read the essays, and give their suggestions on it. Let them however not alter by any means the character of the essay. (Read out section on the Essays for more information)

Complete your college essays. Proofread it and polish it several times. Tie the loose ends, and ensure that your character comes out the most while reading the essay.
Take the SAT II
Register for November SAT I or SAT II if necessary.
Finalize your college choices and let your counselor know by October 15th.
Finish Early Decision and Early Action applications no later than October 20th.
If you are applying to the UK, submit your UCAS forms.

Take SAT I or II if necessary.
Continue working on the essays for the rest of the colleges.
Ensure that you maintain a high grade!

Finish your application! You should attempt to submit all your applications no later than 20th December.
Email all packages and forms that must be sent to colleges.

Keep up with your activities, academics, and social life! Enjoy the last few months of life before college.
If necessary, take the SAT I or II (highly discouraged though!)

Check the status of the UK universities’ applications.

Keep your effort up, and don’t slack off!

Congratulations on all your offers! Don’t be dismayed by being rejected – rejections speak absolutely nothing about you or your abilities. Note the deadlines of when to respond. Talk to a lot of current college students to gauge the academics, student life and atmosphere at each college, and decide where you want to spend the next 3 / 4 years of your life.
Write thank you letters to all your recommenders. The time and effort they have out in to ensure you get an excellent education is most definitely commendable.
Take / prepare for your final exams.

Send 1 deposit to the chosen school.
Let your high school counselors and teachers know of your final decision.
Take / prepare for your final exams.

Request your final transcript to be sent to your college.
Finalize your financial aid package.

Start packing.
Enjoy your summer with your friends, and cherish the beauty and value of home!

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The College Application Essay – it’s the single-most most important thing that can make or break a good application. We, at cforcollege, know your senior year at high school (aka 12th grade/ 12th standard) gets real busy and most of you just don’t have the time for it. You may think that it is what you do that matters, not so much how your present it. But because man hasn’t invented a reverse time machine yet, you can’t go back and change that Physics exam’s grade B to an A or claim you’ve been horse-riding since you were eight when you’ve barely begun last week. What you can do, however, is shape what you write in your essay. By no means warp the truth, merely use it cleverly.

This section guides you through the basic process of writing an essay – and is far from the best treatise written on Communication skills, but what’s different about it is that the advice comes from various students who have been through the same process you will undergo. This is your chance to hear it from the horse’s mouth – and if you have specific questions, feel free to email us and we’ll try to answer them or post them up here – then you have a chance to control what the horse says, what it affirms to and neighs (nays). Apologies, poor joke. Also, I’m not quite sure why I seem to be in love with horse-references.

So here’s how we feel you can get *insert your dream school’s name here* Admissions Office to know you, and to feel that YOU’RE the one they want. Remember: Universities need students to teach, as much as students need universities to learn.

OK, I already knew this, but how do I actually go about writing the essay? In the sense of getting the starting ideas?

Time yourself for five minutes and just jot down whatever comes to your mind when you think about yourself and the activities you like. And then analyze, even if you haven’t written much, what comes to your mind first. It’s most likely going to be what you consider your most significant achievement or what interests you the most. Talk to related people – and you may just have the beginning ideas of a brilliant essay.

Also practice describing, in a line or two, the extra-curriculars and activities you’re involved in (a lot of applications including the CommonApp ask you to do that anyway). From experience, it’s way harder to write 50 words about something that impassions you rather than 500 words about it.

Ok now I know what to write about – how do I start writing about it?

Most people get stuck here for so long, and it’s easy to procrastinate at this point. Here’s a strategy that a lot of writers employ to overcome the proverbial ‘writer’s block’. Write down the topic of the essay – so for example if the topic is ‘Describe the world you come from and how it has shaped your activities and interests as an individual’, start by writing ‘When I think of the world I come from and how it has shaped my activities and interests as an individual….’ and continuously keep writing furiously for three minutes, without taking your pen off the paper. You may write absolute rubbish, even include ‘blah blah I don’t know what to write here’, but eventually at this level of pressure your subconscious will take over and will automatically guide you through what you need to write next.

What should I keep in mind while writing the essay?


Allow yourself time to ideate.

ñ Unless you’re Archimedes (or high on weed), the best ideas will not appear in Eureka! moments, as much as they will through sustained incubation of a tiny thought. (If you’ve got time, listen to this TED talk titled Where Good Ideas Come From)

ñ Carry a tiny notebook around to jot down immediate thoughts and interesting insights.

ñ Discuss random, crazy stuff with people sometimes. It’s amazing how talking to people can open up fresh, previously unexplored perspectives. This isn’t likely to happen if you start your essay the night before it’s due. You may be a brilliant writer, yes, but you are guaranteed to lack I.D.E.A.S.

ñ And for God’s sake please don’t bore the already over-burdened Admission Committee with hackneyed writing. If you want to be noticed, be original. Interesting. Specific.

ñ BONUS tip: By virtue of being an international student, you have the advantage of a unique cultural perspective, especially for common questions like ‘Describe the world you come from and how it has shaped your activities and interests as an individual’ – don’t be afraid of using highly topical cultural references (as long as you explain them). Fascinate the Admissions Officer by offering them insight into the exoticism of an Indian lifestyle.


Make sure that your essay is technically superior, and avoids the common errors below (which, by no means, is an exhaustive list of the fallacies of human writing):

ñ Misspellings

ñ Incorrect punctuation

ñ Tense and pronoun inconsistencies

ñ Inappropriate diction (use Standard English)


In addition, pay special attention to:

ñ Prose Morphology (paragraphing, indentation, varied line length)

ñ Formatting

ñ Structural organization of contents

ñ Use of clever rhetoric and literary devices


ñ Get reviews from a few, selected trustworthy sources. While you want a range of opinions that give you a balanced feedback, you don’t want to get confused hearing a million irreconcilable points of view. Be picky as to who to accept advice from – even if they’re your parents or school teachers, they are not infallible. And at the risk of sounding cliché, we’d recommend you to go with what your heart says.

ñ Sometimes universities have questions like ‘Describe yourself in five words’. Ask not just your best friends, but also people who don’t know you too well – they may be totally inaccurate, but at least you will know what first impressions people have of you.

ñ BONUS tip: Go through your earlier scrapbooks or ‘slam books’, birthday cards, whatever material you have wherein people have spoken about you – and you are bound to find some good personality traits about yourself.

Be a good story-teller.


Weave a story, tell a tale. Paint the reader a vivid picture with sufficient detail, but don’t get too lost within the prose. Know how to be concise, this maintains the energy and momentum in your writing. Write only that which makes absolute sense.


Wait until the very end (just a reiteration of ‘Start Early’, above) But we’ve added it again just to reiterate its importance.

Use heavy jargon just to impress.

In true Three Idiots sense, don’t use …………….. when ‘notebook’ will do, unless this is naturally the way you write (if that’s so, then that’s really weird – you should just directly apply to law school!)

Pump “air” or “fluff” into it to make it longer.

Admissions Committee restricts you to a certain word/character limit for a reason. Please respect that in the interest of fairness and equality between all applicants. Everyone has a lot to say about their lives, why should you alone get the extra space?

Use the essay to explain low test or exam scores.

If there is a genuine reason, let your school counsellor know, and they will include the same in their comments.

Try to be cute.

Smileys, hearts, and all those attempts at pictorial representations of the human expression that we term emoticons are an absolute NO-NO. Exclamations, in moderation for dramatic effect, may be just about on the threshold of acceptability.

Repeat information found elsewhere.

It may be tempting to highlight a particularly intense passion of yours, but genuinely, it’s boring to read the same thing paraphrased twice.

CHANGE Submit extra materials like A/V clips, artwork, research reports unless specifically asked for.

If you are allowed to do it, include only that you feel will make you really stand out. Always check with the University – On the CommonApp for Stanford for Fall 2010 applicants, it was clearly stated that ‘Do not submit supplementary materials, they will be thrown away.’

One of the most important aspects of the essay is simply to be genuine – this is the first time you are applying but admissions committees have been looking at thousands of essays for decades of years – and they can tell when you’re faking it.

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Articles and Documents
Welcome to our Articles and Documents page!

What are these templates all about?

This section includes frameworks, guidelines and samples to help you navigate through the supporting documents that supplement your application. These are divided into sub-categories: Planning Documents, Timelines, Financial Documents, Visa Documentations.

Why must I use these documents?

We recommend that you use these documents not just for planning your college career, but also to tie up any loose ends just before you send in your application to ensure you have all it takes to kick-ass!

At cforcollege, we know that it is nearly impossible to translate eighteen years of your lives to eighteen lines of prose (worse still when you’re asked to compose verse about yourself! Last year, NYU asked applicants to write a limerick about themselves – can you imagine limericks???!) and we’re here to help you organize your fantastic, accomplished lives so far!

The Planning Guide (I,II,III), along with the Timeline will help you identify your major strengths, give you ideas as to how to draw upon them successfully. You may also, through this process, become increasingly aware of the apparent “weaknesses” in your application. Don’t worry! This document will guide you through even that, enumerating the ways in which you can either circumnavigate them or disguise them as strengths.

Financial Documents includes bank-certification, parent certification and financial aid application worksheets to guide you through some formalities of the application process. Yes, it’s boring -but by no means less important than any of the other components. Start early on this – documentation systems are different in India than from the rest of the world, financial data takes time to procure and validate, and your Chartered Accountant will take time figuring it all out!

Visa Documents. So you’ve gotten into your dream college, accepted your top offer, and are raring to start packing your bags! Not yet…all students who are not U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents need an F1 or J1 visa to enter the United States as a student. Even though the actual interviews typically don’t last more than 30 seconds, its is imperative that your paperwork is immaculate. You don’t wanna get rejected a US Visa after all the hard work you’ve put in for the application (and that can happen).


All content on this website is open-source, so feel free to distribute it for non-commercial purposes to your friends, family and juniors. If however, you are distributing to a large audience, we would appreciate it if you let us know in advance – and we can offer you better services.

Every possible effort has been made to trace these documents back to their original source. If you find that some of your material has been unfairly used, please get back to us. We are not responsible for any lost royalties or intellectual property infringement.

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Hello world!

This is an initiative started by 2 students – Jesika Haria and Trisha Kothari, to provide guidance to high school students applying abroad.
This blog will spill the beans – tell you who the best SAT counsellor is, what extracurricular activities you can make the most of, and what a cover letter should look like!
Stay tuned to more coming up soon!

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