Hi, all! Long time no speak! We’re all in the midst of application stress at the moment, and as we all juggle multiple applications and deadlines, it can be easy to miss crucial details that can make or break your application. As such, the Excel Academy College Counseling Team is here to offer you a detailed checklist that you’re welcome to consult as you finalize your applications and get ready to submit.
This information has been compiled from various sources such as College Board, The Princeton Review, and a variety of other college counseling blogs and websites. However, we’ll also be sure to include our own personal advice and suggestions on what to remember before hitting the Submit button. And, as always: don’t forget to give yourself time to relax! The college application process is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s okay to take a day off here and there for the sake of your mental and emotional health.
Okay! Here we go. Make sure you’ve checked all of these items off the list before you celebrate the end of your applications!
COLLEGE SELECTION PROCESS
- Do you have a healthy mix of safety, target, and dream schools? (Usually 2-3 for each)
- Do you have a spreadsheet or document to remember the deadline for each school?
- Have you chosen your Early Decision or Early Action school? Do you know the specific deadline for your Early Action or Early Decision school?
- Remember that Early Decision is binding (meaning you must attend that school if you’re accepted), whereas Early Action is non-binding.
- Have you added these colleges to your Coalition, Common, UC or other application profile?
- Have you checked for each college’s specific requirements, such as supplemental essays, interviews, or admission tests?
- Have you checked to see if your schools are either “test-optional,” “test-blind,” or still require SAT/ACT scores?
- Have you written down all of your personal information, including your name, gender identity, phone number, email address, college credits earned, and other biographical information?
- Have you checked and answered each school’s identifying questions (such as whether or not you prefer specific housing)?
- Have you finished the Activities List?
- Have you made sure to include any and all quantitative data that shows off your accomplishments or impact within each activity? (For example, listing the amount of people who attended an event you created, or the amount of money you raised for a fundraiser)
- Does the Activities List contain a healthy mix of academic, athletic, volunteering, and professional activities? (Remember: it’s okay if you don’t have activities in each of these major categories, as long as you have a good diversity of activities included!)
- Have you finished your list of Honors?
- Did you remember to include in your description (if available) how many people applied for the award, or how many people competed for the award?
- Did you list (if applicable) any disciplinary issues or academic obstacles experienced during your high school career?
- This could include a drop in GPA due to familial issues, or a lack of extracurriculars due to having to work, etc.
- If there are any disciplinary issues or holes in your transcript (such as a zero on a midterm or final due to cheating accusations), be sure to mention it why it happened, and what lessons you learned from it
- Did you add your list of teachers or counselors to your Letters of Recommendation?
- Remember they can only upload their letters of recommendation to your profile if their names and emails are added to your application!
- Also remember to waive away your FERPA Rights!
- Did you include your test scores and grades?
- Remember that you still have to submit your SAT/ACT scores and transcript as separate from the application itself!
- Did you triple-check your personal information for any grammar or spelling errors?
- Have you written a main essay that’s no longer than 650 words in length?
- Does your main essay adequately address your chosen topic?
- Does it highlight your personality and passions, rather than read as a cover letter for a job or a bland description of your accomplishments?
- Have you sent it to at least 2-3 more people (preferably teachers or counselors) who have provided you written feedback?
- Have you triple-checked it for any potential spelling or grammar errors?
- Have you completed each and every supplemental essay for each and every school?
- Remember to choose your intended major as part of your application, because schools will often ask you to fill out supplemental essays based on your choice!
- Have you submitted your FAFSA (preferably as close to October 1st as possible)?
- Do this prior to submitting your application, because colleges may offer financial aid packages or nominate you for merit-based scholarships as part of their acceptance!
- Have all of your recommenders uploaded their letters to your application profile?
- If not, be sure to send them reminder emails every 7-10 days until they do so! (If it’s 1-2 weeks before the deadline, don’t be afraid to remind them more frequently!)
- Have you asked your guidance counselor to submit your transcripts, mid-year and final-year grade reports, and potential recommendation letter?
- Same thing as above—don’t be afraid to send those reminder emails!
- If you created a personal website, did you include that as part of your application?
- You can provide a link or URL as part of your Coalition or Common App
- Have you checked and potentially edited your social media (or set it to private)?
- Did you submit your SAT/ACT and AP scores?
- Remember: it’s a good idea to submit an AP score if it’s a 4 or 5, and a good idea to submit your test scores if it’s above average for your university! (You can always check by Googling “[Insert University Name] average SAT/ACT scores”)
- Have you written thank-you notes for your guidance counselor, recommenders, and anyone else who helped you throughout the application process?
- Remember that teachers often aren’t paid to write these letters; they’re doing so out of the kindness of their heart. Be sure to acknowledge that with a nice letter or small gift!
- Have you followed up with your colleges to make sure they’ve received your test scores and transcripts?
- Have you maintained your grades?
- Even after your applications are submitted, colleges still ask for your grades from your final semester of senior year, and you can be held in academic probation if your grades drop low enough!
- After you’ve accepted any potential offers of admission, did you notify the other colleges about your ultimate choice?
- After you’ve chosen your future college, did you plan a visit to check out the campus?
- Most schools offer an Admitted Students Weekend for you to visit classes and see exactly what the next chapter of your life will look like!
- Most importantly…did you celebrate?!?
That’s all for now. As always, let us know if you have any questions, or want future blog posts on any topic of your choice!
College Counseling Strategist