Since you’ve never applied to college before, it’s easy to miss something you need to do or not know about something that could make the process easier. Here are a few more things to help you complete a basic “To Do List” for this Fall.
Put together a calendar of important dates. It’s much easier to keep track of due dates and deadlines if they’re all on the same calendar. Find the application deadlines for all the colleges you will be applying to. Be sure to also check for scholarship deadlines. (These may be much earlier and will require you to submit your application earlier as well.) Be sure you include any deadlines set by your school for requesting supporting documents.
Request and gather all the supporting documents you need such as transcripts, school reports and letters of recommendation. Every college is different, so check carefully to find out what each school will need you to send them. Your school officials are likely to require quite a bit of advanced notice for these documents so be sure you don’t wait till the last minute to request them. (Please note that students applying to visual or performing arts programs will have to provide additional materials.)
Make sure you’ve had your test scores sent. Just including your scores on your application isn’t enough. In order to be official, your ACT or SAT scores must be sent directly to the colleges from the testing company. You can send the scores to 4 colleges for free if you choose those schools when you register for the test. After that, there is a charge. (You should see your school counselor for a fee waiver if your family’s income is very low.)
Have your essays proofread! If a college requires an essay, it’s because it’s important to them. Submitting an essay that has errors or doesn’t address the prompt may convey a negative message and hurt your chances for admission. (I would encourage you to ask someone who is familiar with college application essays to do the proofreading for you.)
Submit your applications well before the deadline. Every year, students miss application deadlines by waiting till the last minute due to computer crashes, power outages, and any number of other unexpected events. It’s a good rule of thumb to be ready to submit your applications at least a week before the deadline. If the school you are applying to does rolling admissions, it may be in your best interest to apply before January 1 to improve your chances for admission – and possibly for scholarships. If you’re not sure, speak with your school counselor about it.