By: Mia Myklebust and Susanna Cerasuolo M.Ed.
For high school Seniors, November is a hectic and stressful month. You’re busy finishing up testing, attending college fairs, having interviews and, most importantly, submitting your applications. In all the hubbub it can be easy to overlook one or two things on your applications. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen. Today’s blog features 9 things you need to check before submitting your college applications.
1- Proofread your essays
Even if you think your college essays are perfect, we recommend reading through them one more time. Make sure you haven’t gone over the character limit. It is easy to confuse character count and word count, make sure you know which one you are being asked for! Read all instructions given to you very carefully. Make sure you’re actually answering the question being asked of you. Students have been known to write about a topic related to the question, but won’t actually answer the question at all. Don’t let yourself be this student!
2- Proofread your applications
Remember, your applications are separate from your essays. Double check that you have correctly filled out every section of the Common Application and your other apps. We know this work can be tedious, (who cares if you spelled the name of your dad’s alma mater correctly, right?) but the truth is, every word counts. You’re asking these colleges to accept you, so you need to be sure that you are giving them the benefit of portraying your best self in your applications. Simple mistakes can make you appear careless, so be careful!
3- Make sure you sent your test scores
Go to the SAT or ACT website and make sure you have paid for and sent your test scores to every college you’re applying to.
4- Have someone else proofread apps and essays
After you have read through your essays and applications, have a parent or mentor read through them one last time. You have been looking at these documents so much it can be easy to miss something. A fresh set of eyes for a final once over is always a smart idea.
5- Check that you sent your transcripts
Make sure you DON’T send transcripts to schools who do not want them and make sure you DO send transcripts to schools that do want them. This might seem obvious, but it can be easy to send everything to all your schools. However, if a school does not want your transcript they will be annoyed that you sent them an extra document. If they do want it and you failed to send it, your application will be considered incomplete. Better safe than sorry!
6- Verify recommendation letters
The same thing applies to your letters of rec. Send if the college requests them, but don’t if the school didn’t ask for them. Be especially careful with letters of recommendation, as requests can vary considerably from school to school.
7- Make sure to list all Honors/AP classes as such
A common mistake is to forget to mark classes as AP or Honors. This is forgetting to give yourself credit for all the hard work you’ve put in! Make sure to include all your advanced coursework on your applications.
8- Match your major
On the Common App, make sure the major you declare on the “future plans” page matches the major you MAY BE asked to declare on each “supplement” page. Each college will have a different supplement page (or they might not have one at all). You need to go through each supplement page and make sure that your major matches the major you selected on the general “future plans” page. The options on the supplement pages could be slightly different, but make sure you choose options that are as similar as possible.
9- Select your teachers
On the Common App, make sure that you have not only invited your teachers to write your recommendations, but that you’ve also “selected” your teachers on the School Forms Page (ALL the way at the bottom) for EACH college on the Common App. Heads up; you will need to do this multiple times.
That last moment before you press the “submit” button can seem endless. Finally sending off your applications to the college admissions officers is a big deal and can be scary for some Seniors. However, if you follow this checklist you have nothing to fear! Trust us, you will even feel relieved once all that hard work is behind you. As long as you know you’ve done your best, the rest is history! You’re almost there!