Minturn, CO — High school seniors and juniors are not immune to stress during the holiday season. However, many experts say that this is a critical time for these students, who are college-bound, to take advantage of the holiday break — to ensure that they gain entrance into the first college of their choice.

“Getting your scholarship and financial aid paperwork submitted early can give you great advantages,” says Trinity Machuca, student ambassador of undergraduate admissions, at the University of Colorado- Denver Campus.  

Even though UC -Denver does not require an essay or letters of recommendation, Machuca strongly recommends submitting these documents anyway because she says students are at a much greater advantage of becoming accepted into UC-Denver.

Machuca recommends that students submit their supportive materials including application, ACT/ SAT scores, and transcripts before the Christmas break.

“The sooner the better,” says Machuca. “Especially when it comes to financial aid. It’s on a first come, first serve basis — so is scholarship money. A few years ago, a young male student received a $500 scholarship, even though it was for a scholarship designed for female students, because he applied early and was the only one who applied for it!”

“If you haven’t submitted all of your paperwork, the winter break is the best time to be proactive towards college admissions.” says Machuca. “It’s only going to benefit you in the end.”

Charlene Whitney, guidance counselor at Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, located in Minturn, agrees.

“Most of our seniors are finished submitting applications and are now working on scholarship applications.” says Whitney, whose VSSA high school was recently ranked the 5th best ski academy in the nation. ”We need to finalize things before our students athletic travel schedules pick up even more this winter.”

For many top-notch colleges and universities, submitting application documents before the first of the year is a non-negotiable. For example, the deadline to submit materials to the Colorado School of Mines is January 1st.

However, the Colorado School of Mine’s priority deadline, for one for the school’s 1,050 limited spots for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, was November 15th.  According to Colorado School of Mines Director of Admissions Kim Medina, forty-percent of the students for the upcoming school year have already been accepted.

. “The earlier you apply, the better, says Medina. ”We will start a wait list at the end of January and beginning of February. We especially  try to work with our Colorado applicants, but space is limited.”

Getting accepted into the Colorado School of Mines is not easy. The average ACT score for last year’s class was a 31. For the SAT, the average score was 1390.

Medina says that although letters of recommendation are not required, students who do get a letter written for them from one of their teachers, gains a significant advantage in becoming accepted into the School of Mines.

“Letters of  recommendations can be especially helpful from a math teacher — especially if your ACT or SAT math scores are not as high as we’d like,” says Medina.

A Link to Help Organize your College Entrance Application Process: