Several of our students wisely used their summer breaks to visit university campuses in the US. They brought back some wonderful stories and ideas for how to proceed through the admissions process. The most important lesson came straight from admissions officers:
Submit your application online first, then prepare and send your other documents.
This information is mind blowing because this is the exact OPPOSITE of how everyone applies to universities. Usually, you gather your transcripts, test scores, and recommendations and send them off (or at least compile them before you apply). Then you fill out the application and wait for feedback. This way makes sense, right? Wrong.
As soon as you identify the universities you want to apply to, get the application done...then start working on the supplemental documents. You'll proceed much more calmly through the application process.
Note: For students applying to universities using the Common Application, you can still roughly follow this process. Fill out the Common App as soon as you identify one university to which you want to apply. The beauty of the Common App is that it's easy to add universities with only a little work once you've completed the application for the first one.