When should I start applying?
The earlier you start the better! Do not let it be to the last minute, do not be like me. I remember running around my school trying to get letter of recommendations, transcripts, and reaching out to counselors. Before I noticed it was that college application period time and I was unprepared!
The best time to start is the summer before your senior year. You should have taken the SAT for the first time by that time! Most students, however, decide to start working on their application during the fall semester of their senior year.
How many colleges should I apply to?
I applied to ten colleges. It was a combination of private and public universities. Some recommend around five to eight colleges. My suggestion is that you apply to your so called ‘dream schools’ those that are almost impossible to get accepted. Apply to those you have a possibility and you like, either because you have visit them or a school represented has given some type of presentation on the school. Then apply to those that you can easily get accepted to, the ‘safety schools.’ Most of all be realistic about the number of colleges you can handle applying to. Do not overwhelm yourself with dozens of colleges.
Should I even bother with colleges that I can’t afford?
I think this is the reason that stops most students from applying to college. I heard dozens of my classmates say that they were going to a community college or just start working because they did not have money to afford a four-year college. The thing is, is that there is a lot of money! So yes apply to all those overly priced colleges. Remember that you will receive a financial aid package for college and you will determine if is convenient for you. If you are not satisfied with your financial aid package you can always call the business office at the college and assure them you want to attend to their college but the financial aid package you have received is not enough. In some cases they will consider your request. Also, there are thousands of outside scholarships you can apply to.
When I applied to college, I think one of my least worries was money. Sure my college was super expensive but I received a substantial grant to cover my expenses. So please do not let money stop you from applying to college because that is a very vague excuse.