There are many steps to the college application process, but they’re easy to do if you break them down.
Have you created your college application checklist yet? There are many steps to the application process, so having a checklist to reference can come in handy. Here is a helpful list you can use to stay organized during the application process.
- Register for the ACT and/or SAT. Many colleges look at these test results as a part of your application. They are offered several times each year. You can take each test multiple times to try to improve your scores. You may also need to register for subject area tests.
- Take a test prep course for any tests you plan to take, if needed. Practice tests are usually available online as well.
- Request special accommodations for standardized tests, if you qualify. SAT accommodations need to be requested about a month before the normal test deadline, and one for the ACT need to be sent by the normal deadline but can only be requested via snail mail (not online).\
- Request an SAT/ACT fee waiver from your guidance counselor. Not sure if you qualify? Simply ask. If you participate in a free or reduced school lunch program, you probably do.
- Register for AP exam(s) in late March. Some colleges give credit for high AP scores.
- Take any applicable AP exam in May.
- Choose your senior year classes. Be sure they reflect your academic level and ability, as colleges may look at course selection when considering applicants.
- Identify the teachers you would like to ask to write you a letter of recommendation. Ask the teachers during the spring before the year ends to give them as much notice as possible. Many colleges require between one and three letters (including one from a guidance counselor), so you should ask a few different instructors.
- Once people write you letters, send them thank you notes.
- Develop a list of colleges that you’re interested in learning more about.
- Research those colleges to narrow down the list. (College Board and Naviance are websites that can help you get information about colleges that interest you.)
- Visit the colleges that seem like a good fit for you. College visits often start in junior year, but can also take place into the summer and fall of senior year. You should visit a few different schools, to get an idea of what works.
- Schedule on-campus interviews or local alumni interviews, if the schools offer them.
- Send your test scores to your top schools. This should be done after you receive your scores, even though it costs extra, to make sure you are satisfied with them.
- Re-take tests if your first score isn’t what you wanted. This can also be done in the fall of your senior year.
At the end of the application process, you may need to make a decision from among several colleges.
- Create a final list of all the schools you’re going to apply to.
- Write down a list of all the application deadlines for those schools, so you don’t miss anything.
- Decide if you have a favorite school where you want to apply for early decision or early action.
- Fill out the common application, which many schools accept.
- Choose your essay topic and write a first draft of your application essay.
- Proofread it.
- Have at least two other people look over your letter, such as a guidance counselor, teacher or other trusted person.
- Proofread it again.
- Fill out applications for schools on your list that don’t accept the common application. Write application-specific essays, if necessary.
- Send in all applications, including fees.
- Request that your high school transcript be sent to the colleges where you’re applying.
- Fill out FAFSA and PROFILE by February or March to meet financial aid deadlines, even if you haven’t made a decision yet.
- Submit any college and state aid forms, if necessary.
- Receive your congratulations letters.
- Decide what college you’re going to attend
- Send in your deposit and accept the financial aid package.
- Let colleges you got into know that you are going elsewhere.
- Throw a party.