How many plates does a high school junior or senior have spinning in the air? Between homework, extracurriculars, and social life, it can be stressful to keep up. Add one more spinning plate in the form of college applications, and it all might come crashing down.

We can help! With some planning, it is possible to add one more element to that already long to-do list without losing your mind. Take a deep breath and follow these tips.

How to Keep Your Grades Up While Rocking Your Applications

1. Make a List

How to balance homework and college applications

Have you created a college checklist of all the things you need to do for your applications? From asking teachers for college recommendations and prepping to retake the SAT to applying for financial aid, assign yourself deadlines and put them on the list. Thinking early admission? Better get going!

2. Keep a calendar

Plot your application-related deadlines in a calendar along with your homework and long-term studying needs. Include everything coming up in the next month, from your weekly French vocab quiz to your 5-page history essay.

3. Factor in extracurriculars

Don’t forget to schedule time on the calendar for your away games or work shifts. The goal is map out everything you have to accomplish over the next month—including clubs and social plans.

4. Where are your pressure points?

Do an important college application deadline and major chem exam fall on the same day? Avoid a head-on collision by finishing up your application early. You can’t study too far in advance, but you can get your college app done anytime.

5. Start early

This will save you from scrambling at the last minute. For example, request letters of recommendation as early as possible. You’ll avoid chasing them on deadline when teachers get overloaded right before the holidays. And as for college essays, everyone’s writing is better when it’s been put away and reviewed (more than once) at a later date.

6. Take advantage of free time

How often do we waste 10 minutes here and 5 minutes there? Create a list of tasks you can do on the fly, like making flash cards or outlining an essay. Even if you can’t finish it, you’ll feel a surge of energy when you reopen a document and see that something is already there…instead of a blank page.

7. Cross stuff out

Crossing something off your list just feels inspiring! Break your big projects into little ones. It’s easier to plan, and every task you get done helps you feel more accomplished.

8. Pad your calendar for the unexpected

One trick is to look at the actual due date and mark it down one day before. Sometimes things go awry and you need that last day. But if you don’t, just sit back and smile while everyone else stresses.

9. Just say no

Accept the limits on your time and realize there might be a weekend when you have to say no to the extra babysitting job, to hanging out at your BFF’s house, or to running mom’s errands (You can even tell her we said that!).

10. Ask for help

Call on The Princeton Review for a brain boost when you’re running low. Our online tutors can help you understand that challenging concept in calculus or give an extra polish to your college essay. 

Remember, there is light at the end of this tunnel and it comes with the click of the “send” button. College application season ends with you accepting an offer of admission!

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