Know the Deadlines
Each university will have different deadlines for filing an application. If you miss this deadline, you will not be able to be considered for admission. Using a calendar will help you keep track of all of the deadlines and how they relate to one another. If University A has a deadline of Dec. 1, but University B's deadline isn't until Feb. 15th, then you know that you need to put your efforts into University A first. There is no need to procrastinate, though. Send in any materials as you prepare them so you won't be late. If a college is like Northern Michigan University, where there is not a set deadline for most students, it is a good idea to complete the application by the start of second semester. This will allow you to focus on the financial aid side of things (see step #4).
Some colleges offer early decision options. Deadlines for most early decision applications fall between Oct. 15-Nov. 15. NMU does not have early admission.