The deadlines for college applications are looming. Try not to panic. All of the hard work you have completed over the years will register to some paperwork over a couple of months that is intended to broadcast why the schools you desire should accept you...no pressure!
It is vital to ensure that your completed college application packages are received on time. This can make or break all of your efforts and chances of being accepted.
Of course, at first, this may seem overwhelming. However, if you can remember that accomplishing one task at a time is the key to surviving the crunch of college admissions, everything will be much easier to handle. Below is a checklist to help make your college application process more manageable. Staying calm and organized is the key to your success.
1. Get Your Calendar Sorted
Use an online calendar, a piece of paper, or a notebook to write down each school that you are applying to. Include each school's final due date to make sure that you submit everything on time. Different schools will require applications to be in by December 15, some might be due in January or February.
Use a highlighter or number system to determine which schools need to be applied for first.
Pro Tip: Write down a tentative due date up to a week or two earlier than the true due date to ensure that your application arrives well by the due date. Set a reminder to ding on your phone or your computer in advance of the due date to ensure you have enough time. Being able to prioritize your dates will allow you to stay on track much easier.
2. Secure Your High School Transcripts
Request your high school transcripts as soon as possible. These will be needed for every application. Doing this as early as possible helps to give you plenty of notice to fulfill your application deadlines. Speak with your guidance counselor to determine if there is a certain request criterion you need to adhere to.
3. Find Out If Your Schools Utilize the Common Application
Over 800 schools use the Common Application. This is a general application. It is easy to use, and you can save yourself tons of time by filling it out once and then submitting it to numerous schools. Do note that some Common Application schools have additional requirements attached that will need to be uploaded by a deadline specific to the school. Read everything carefully to keep track properly.
4. Keep Track Of Everything To Stay Organized
Regardless of if the schools you are applying to use the Common Application or not, it is a great idea to write down each institution's particular admissions requirements. Depending on how selective the school is, you will likely be asked to submit extra items. Keeping a list of who needs what will help you be prepared and ensure that you don't miss anything.
5. Don't Rush To Complete Your Application Forms
It is wise to pre-read your application form and provide a detailed and thorough answer. Take your time and schedule a time to complete these forms so that you have ample time. Remember that omissions or mistakes can delay the entire application process. You don't want to come across as careless or rushed.
Check for spelling mistakes and general errors. Many applications include short-answer questions and want to know about your extra-curricular activities and interests. Ask someone you trust to read over everything before you submit to ensure that nothing important was missed.
6. Decide On Reliable References
Think carefully about who will best vouch for you to write letters of recommendation. You want to pick teachers who know you as a person and as a dedicated student. Always give your potential references advanced notice.
Include some bullet points to help remind them of any specific accomplishments you hope they will mention. You may wish to mention when you would prefer to receive the letter so that you have time to attach everything. Politely follow up with a thank you note after they have delivered their recommendation. Have a few letters planned in case something falls through or is delivered late.
7. Ensure Your ACT/SAT Scores Are Sent Where They Need To Be
You can pick up to 4 schools when you register for each exam. For a fee, you can request additional reports be sent at a future date. It may take up to a week for your reports to be submitted so note your time deadlines. Ensure you put your requests in asap once you determine your final school list. Many colleges are test score optional; therefore, you may not be required to send your scores to every school you pick. Read the fine print and ask your school counselor for any detailed advice if you are unsure.
8. Draft Your Personal Statements and Essays In Advance and Personalize
Many people try to write one generic essay and send it to every school. This is a terrible idea and it typically is easy to see that zero effort was put in. You will have to tailor each write-up as most have different questions to answer specifically.
Allow yourself plenty of time to complete your essays and personal statements. Start with an outline and then make the first draft. Have someone read it over and be open to feedback and making revisions. Ensure you spell-check it with Grammarly or another site to catch any errors. Check if there are any word counts to take into consideration.
9. Avoid Submitting and Forgetting
It can be tempting to simply submit and forget about everything since the process was long and involved. However, you want to watch for the notifications letting you know colleges have received your applications.
Keep an eye open in your email. Schools often send information about how to set up an account to review the status of your application. If you don't hear back a week after you sent your submission, feel free to call or send an email to the admission office to ensure they received your application. We all know items can become lost in cyberspace and if this is the case, you will want to know asap so you can resend everything if possible.
10. Make An Effort To Earn Extra Credit
Certain schools will offer the option of sending in extra materials such as videos or writing samples. If you decide to take this opportunity, ensure your additional items add value to your application and do not detract from it.
Supplemental items to consider include sending in a short film you made, making a video of yourself reading your poetry or a recording of you at a poetry reading, photos of your science project or robotics competition entry, playing an instrument, choreographing your dance group, etc. Adding your personalized talents can add more depth compared to relying on your basic application.
This college application checklist will help you stay on top of the entire process. As you mark items off as completed, you will feel accomplished and relieved. Keep up the great work and be proud of how far you have come. You will be well prepared for the next process to begin once those acceptance letters arrive in the mail!