It’s about that time of the school year for seniors in high school when the anxiety starts settling in regarding their college applications. You may be having thoughts like “Did my teacher finish my recommendation letter? Did I even get the right teacher to give me a recommendation? Did I finish every aspect of the application completely? Did I miss any fees that I need to pay for the applications? Are my test scores being sent to the right schools?” Not to worry about any of this. We have a comprehensive checklist for you to be 100% sure that you got everything done regarding your applications.
Although most colleges nowadays use the Common Application as their form of application into the school, some schools still use their own platforms and forms that you have to fill out. The Common Application is a very beneficial tool for you as the student because it can save you a whole lot of time by allowing you to apply to multiple schools through one single portal.
In this section, some critical things to make sure that you enter correctly are your email address, phone number, high school (sometimes you may need to enter a certain code for your school, beware of this), standardized test scores (more on this later) citizenship information, home address, etc. The information here is how your potential college will be able to contact you.
This is your time to shine outside of your academics. Explain all the great work you’ve done, and how much time you’ve devoted to this activity. Don’t forget to include things such as part-time jobs, or any other obligations you have in the community (i.e. taking care of siblings).
Schools are very aware of the fact that during the summer you have a lot of time out of school. They want to see you doing something productive with all this allotted time. Explain any summer jobs or internships you’ve helped.
This is a pretty big one. A lot of students freak out when writing the essays they need to complete their application. In short, don’t be. Be true to yourself and write what you know. Maybe even do a little research when writing so you can show you know what you’re talking about. Submit the essays that YOU’VE written.
Another section for you to shine and stand out amongst all these applicants. List any honors or awards that you have received along with a brief explanation of what it is. Include how many students you beat out, how many students received the award, and why it’s important.
Now, this is a very important section. If you have received any disciplinary infractions, make sure you list it on your applications. You don’t want there to be any secrets here. Nothing is worse than a school granting you admission and then rescinding it after finding out certain information that you left out on your own. Be upfront, and own up to what happened.
You have to pay for your applications to officially submit them. It is possible to speak to your guidance counselor or the college’s financial aid office for fee waivers. Fee waivers are very often available so that you can submit your application for free.
Standardized Test Scores
In addition to submitting your SAT and ACT scores through the CollegeBoard portal, you will be required to submit official score reports. You must send these reports in through your CollegeBoard portal as well. Many colleges also ask that you send in reports for your scores on any AP or SAT Subject tests that you have taken.
Your Guidance Counselor(s)
There are certain things your guidance counselor will be responsible to submit on your behalf. These things are mostly administrational items.
Official High School Transcript
Your official transcript lists each of the classes you have taken during your high school career, along with all the credits you have earned. Be sure to inform your counselor the list of schools that you are applying to and the relevant deadlines for their applications
Mid-Year and Final-Year Grade Reports
The initial transcript that will be submitted by your counselor will only include your grades up until the end of your Junior year of high school. That is because you are still in your Senior year when you’re applying to colleges. Colleges want to make sure that you are finishing your high school career strong. They usually ask for these reports as an update on you as a student. Colleges do reserve the right to rescind their offers to their schools if you’re not able to keep your academics up to par by the end of the school year. Now, if your grade goes from something like an A to a B, it’s not the end of the world. But, if you were to go from an A to a C or even a D, you should be very concerned about attending the college that you initially accepted the offer to.
Secondary Reports and/or Counselor Recommendation
This is how your guidance counselor will place your academic achievements into context for the admissions officers at your potential college. Your counselor will have a chance to speak about any special circumstances you’ve faced in the school and community and how you’ve added to the school’s community. Colleges use this portion to understand the bigger picture here. They want to know if you’ve made the best of your circumstances.
Your teachers are supposed to write you a recommendation letter to attend the schools. This is meant to give colleges an insight into how you perform academically within the classroom. Asking your teacher for a recommendation is probably the best part of this process. You get to re engage with some of your favorite teachers from the past or even the present. However, make sure to give them ample amount of time to write your recommendation, as they do have many other students who may also be asking them to write a recommendation. It is also recommended that you ask teachers that taught you in your junior or senior year. Colleges do look at when the teacher was a mentor figure to you. It’s better to have someone recent.
Don’t worry about if you’ve gotten everything. Give yourself more than enough time to submit everything, get fee waivers, and ask for recommendations. Take things slow and plan out when you need to get things done by, ahead of time. We wish you luck and hope you get into your dream colleges.