1. PRINT A COPY OF EACH APPLICATION FOR YOUR RECORDS
Immediately before submitting each application, print a copy of it. Then print a copy of the confirmation of submission and payment of application fee. These things sometimes slip through the cracks, you need to have “evidence” in case your application and/or payment gets lost in the shuffle.
Once you have successfully submitted an application… don’t forget the final pieces of the puzzle. The devil is always in the details, and you’ve got some details to look after!
2. OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT
Unless you know for absolute certainty that your Guidance Office has already sent off your official transcript, remind your counselor of the looming deadline date. Pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes may be necessary for colleges to which your transcript must be mailed rather than emailed. And it's fine to send transcripts even before you submit an application!
However, before your transcript is actually sent, check it thoroughly to be certain that everything is as it should be: classes, grades, and credits, service hours if they’re recorded, and SAT/ACT scores. Most private high schools do not include test scores on the transcript, which is fine. However, many public high schools do include scores, and it’s a good idea to send your counselor a note asking to remove scores you’re legitimately not sending to colleges (which he or she can typically do through someone at the School District office).
Note: These universities, among others, do not require a transcript at the time of application: UF, FSU, FGCU, the University of California system. There are special online forms to complete in lieu of a transcript; however, an official transcript is ultimately sent if you’re accepted and plan to attend one of these universities.
UF doesn’t want any, nor do most other state universities in Florida. However, most Common App colleges require at least one recommendation. Through the Common App, Naviance, or a college’s online portal, you can check to see which recommendations have been submitted. Make sure your recommenders have followed through in a timely fashion – or remind them again of your request for a recommendation.
4. TEST SCORES
Send an official score report to each college to which you are applying in time to meet their application deadlines. Scores that appear on your high school transcript are not “official.” Send your ACT or SAT scores, Subject Test scores, and/or TOEFL scores – depending on each college’s guidelines. You’re the one who orders the score reports through College Board, ACT, or ETS; these organizations will send your official score report directly to the colleges which you specify. If you’ve already sent your scores but retook a test and got a higher score, then send an updated score report. And it's fine to send an official score report even before you submit an application. Most colleges do not require an official AP or IB score report until you’ve made a commitment to attend that college. SAT and ACT scores are not necessary for admission to a test-optional university; however, they may be submitted if you believe they’re high enough to make a difference.
5. FINANCIAL AID FORMS
Be sure to have your parents complete the appropriate financial aid forms. If you feel you may qualify for financial aid, your parents should fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon after January 1 as possible. Some universities also require the CSS Profile or their own form for financial aid or scholarships. You should be aware, however, that not all colleges are need-blind, and applying for financial aid can have a slightly negative impact on your application at colleges that are not need-blind.
6. DEMONSTRATED INTEREST
An official college visit, including information session and campus tour, improves your chances of admission at most private universities. You can arrange to meet with an admissions counselor, faculty members, and students; attend a class or two and even do an overnight in a residence hall. One enormous benefit of a visit is getting that real taste of campus life, allowing you to determine if the fit is right for you. (And if you haven’t yet submitted your application, this visit will help you write more compelling “Why college X?” essay.)
Check the status of your application about a week after you submit it. Most colleges provide an online portal through which you can check the status of your application to make sure it’s complete.
And some additional thoughts in closing…
Before a college will consider you for admission, your file must be “complete,” which means the college must have received everything required. If even one item is missing, then your application is not really complete; you won’t be considered for admission until all the pieces are in place.
Keep your grades up – and stay positive! And please let us know what we can do to help you write stellar essays, create a sparkling résumé, or complete winning applications.