September is often panic attack month for parents of high school seniors who have not started the college planning process. There is limited time to apply for one last shot at the SAT or ACT. Applications for early decision, early admission and priority admission are due in 6-8 weeks. There are references to request, records to send and quite a few essays to write.
The best approach to de-stressing the process is to get an ally. A competent counselor or knowledgeable friend or relative can help you develop a to-do list and calendar of deadlines. Developing a plan and identifying needed tasks and an admission strategy can go a long way toward making the process go smoothly.
A second thing to do is to give yourself a break if you can. If you did not get to visit colleges over the summer, perhaps you can just visit the top 3. You can still apply to the others and plan to visit them later. Instead of approaching each college admission application singularly, you could analyze them to see if they have essay questions in common (they do). Most applications allow students to choose from a list of topics. Knowing which questions appear on several applications will affect which questions you choose to answer.
An important thing to remember is to leave time to enjoy the senior year which comes around only once in life. Help your child enjoy his last year living at home by helping him navigate the college process efficiently.