Ready, Set, Apply: A Checklist to Help You Finish Your College Application

With the January deadline for most college applications lurking around the corner, it is time for high school seniors to start submitting applications. However, before pressing the “Submit” button and hoping for the best, there are a few steps that students should take in order to make sure that the applications are complete and to help prepare for the next steps in the application process:

  • Apply early. Don’t wait until the last minute to send in your application. It is also a good idea to get your application done early so you can have someone proof it for you.
  • Remember to pay the application fee when you submit the application. The best way to ensure that the payment and the application have gone through is to log out of the application (or the Common App site) and then log back in. The application should show up as submitted.
  • Check your email regularly. Most schools will email you to let you know that your application has been received. If you don’t receive an email within two weeks of submitting the application, call the school to make sure that it was received.
  • Read the school sites. Even if you are submitting your application and supplement through the Common Application website, you should still go to the sites of all of the colleges you are applying to in order to see each school’s application checklist. This can help prevent you from inadvertently missing a step, particularly with schools like Colorado College, which has a form not found on the Common App site that must be completed. On the school sites, you can also check to see if there are additional requirements such as a graded paper or a separate application in order for you to be considered for scholarships.
  • Start the financial aid process. Although the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2010 – 2011 school year won’t be available until January 1, 2010, you can still fill out the CSS Profile form.
  • Determine which schools recommend interviews and, if you aren’t able to visit the schools between now and February to have an on-campus interview, check to see if your schools will hold interviews in your town or if they offer an alumni interview program. Do not wait until the last minute to schedule interviews.
  • Stay on top of your recommendations. Make sure that you have filled out and given your guidance counselor and teachers all of the needed forms and envelopes for your recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask your counselor or teachers politely about the status of the recommendations to see if they have been sent.
  • Send the official score reports. Most schools need the official score reports for your standardized tests, including the SAT and/ or ACT. Be certain that you have requested that the official scores be sent from the College Board or ACT directly to the school. You should also make sure to send AP scores if you earned a 4 or 5 on the test.

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