written by
Arin Peter

The final college application checklist: Are you ready?

Admissions Tips 4 min read

With just about two weeks until most regular decision deadlines are due (January 1), we've put together a quick college application checklist to help you feel as confident as possible before hitting "submit." (How exciting, but also a bit nerve-wracking!)

Student working at laptop to review the last pieces of her college application
Image: The final items to review before hitting "submit" on those college applications | Photographer: Jacqueline Kelly | Source: Unsplash

We're keeping it simple with the four things that must be on your checklist so you can then rest a little easy while waiting to hear back from colleges.

1. Confirm you've got all the pieces of your application

  • Letters of recommendation in? Don't forget to send thank you notes to those who wrote these on your behalf - a quick card or handwritten message can go a long way!
  • Test scores sent? If not, reach out to the ACT or College Board to get them out ASAP.
  • High school transcript? While you'll likely send a final transcript at the end of your senior year, most applications ask for a transcript at the time you submit too.
  • Application fees ready? If you can't afford these fees, most colleges will waive them, but make sure you're prepared here.
  • Essays written? We'll go deeper on the essay piece shortly, as these are such a crucial piece to helping college admissions officers learn more about who you are.

2. Proofread your application for grammar and overall flow, and ask someone you trust to do the same

  • Did you re-read the application in full? While you hope your computer will catch any misspellings, that's not always the case. It also may be that you were typing quickly and wrote the word, "from" when you meant to write "form," or perhaps "for" for "four." Remember to check every word carefully and slow down when reading.
  • Have you asked someone else to read your application? This can be a parent, teacher, sibling, or a peer you trust. Having someone who is a bit removed from every word and piece of your application can lead to a trusted opinion.

3. Proofread your essays, and once again, ask someone else to share their opinion on how they read and ideally help tell your unique story

  • Have you taken a few days to re-visit your essays? While it can be tempting to write these quickly and feel so great about being the flow when writing, it's important to take a few days before you hit "send." The essays are such a great way to help you stand out and tell your personal story, that it's usually helpful to have let a few days pass before you re-read or re-visit them.
  • Have you asked someone else to read these fully? We'd really suggest someone who is both grammar-savvy and has a good understanding of the types of stories that can be compelling in sharing your personal story. While we know it can be a bit vulnerable and scary to ask others for their opinion, having an unbiased opinion here can be really helpful. If you're not sure who to ask, we've got our trained Bullseye mentors here and ready to help, as well as our unique Bullseye scorecard that can give you a rating across grammar, fluency of ideas, and original thinking. Check it out!

4. Hit "submit" a few days before the deadline, and make sure that confirmation email comes in

  • Are you hitting "submit" on or ideally a few days before the deadline? Again, January 1 isn't too far away, and we'd actually recommend you give yourself a few days before the deadline. You just never know with how many other students around the world may be trying to hit submit up until 11:59 PM on December 31, and it's not worth the added stress here! Aiming to get this in a few days sooner will help you rest easy and also prepare for any unknowns like site maintenance or internet browsers crashing.
  • Have you seen that confirmation email come through? Ideally you'll get this just a few minutes or hours after hitting "submit," but it can take up to two or three days depending on the volume. If you don't see it within three days (and you've checked your spam or junk folders), we'd suggest calling the admissions office to confirm. Again, this is why giving yourself just a few extra days before the final deadline can be really helpful.

And that's really it when it comes to your college application checklist!

We want these final few weeks to be times where you're feeling confident and putting your best foot forward, as opposed to worrying about anything else. Once your applications are in, you should hear back from colleges around March or April on the final decisions or potential "waitlist" option.

If you hear back about a waitlist potential, or have the option to interview with alumni from the school, check out our tips here on how to best prepare for potential interviews. Best of luck!

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