December is a very busy month in the college application process with application due dates almost every week. Saturday, December 1st, marked another big priority/regular application due date for many colleges and universities. The next deadline is December 15th, which is also when the notifications from November 1st Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) will begin arriving.
Not submitting applications on time is one of the biggest mistakes students make, and though it’s known that public colleges and universities technically have rolling admissions, it’s always in the best interest of the applicant to submit their applications on the due dates. So, being prepared is key to reducing the stress of the college application process.
• Guidance counselors & recommendors - An application that is submitted without any supporting documents won't be reviewed so make sure that the guidance counselor, and those writing their letters of recommendation, are updated.
• Check your emails daily - Schools communicate more via email than snail mail, so clean out your inbox and check your emails daily. The status of you applications can also be checked on the respective schools' websites. It’s your responsibility!!!
• SAT/ACT Score Reports - Another crucial part of any application, these score reports take approximately two weeks to reach your schools, so send them early. Colleges in the Historically Black Colleges (HBC) network often accept SAT/ACT scores listed on the transcript, but its always best to check ahead. This is a big money saver for students on a tight budget.
• AP Score Reports - Check your colleges' requirements, but if you scored 3-5 on an AP exam consider also sending those along for consideration. A high score could act as a tie breaker in the evaluation process and/or allow the student to be excused from an introductory class.
• Supplemental and short answer essays - Don't take them lightly! By now most students have written their main college essay, but selective schools tend to have several of these supplemental essays and they are often harder to write because of the smaller word count limit. The infamous 'Why this school?' essay might seem easy, but shouldn't be answered by citing weak reasons. Do your homework by researching the website and thinking of exactly why that school is on your college list. Here's yet another opportunity for students to use their voice, so use it wisely.
• January 1st deadlines - The regular admission deadline to the more selective colleges and universities is only a few weeks away. It is highly recommended that these applications be submitted as soon as possible. Double check the status of all the required documents - SAT/ACT scores, letters of recommendations, transcript - are ready to be sent along with the application. Don't forget that incomplete applications cannot be evaluated.
• Early Decision II or Early Action II - Students who applied Early Decision or Early Action on November 1st, but are not satisfied with the results, can try their hand at the second round that have early January and February deadlines. Early Decision II is also binding, and Early Action II still offers applicants the chance to review financial aid packages before making that final decision.
• Final Aid Deadlines - Often overlooked, applicants must also submit their financial information on time. Check the school’s website or call the Financial Aid office for more information.
• The 2018-2019 FAFSA can now be filled out and submitted earlier. Schools use the information on the FAFSA to calculate the financial aid packages they offer students, so applicants should get that FAFSA completed sooner vs later.
• Missing deadlines -There is absolutely no excuse for missing an application deadline especially when using the Common App. Every effort should be made to have those applications ready to be submitted on time, and with no mistakes. All students with January 1st deadlines should make sure they aren't waiting till the afternoon of December 31st to hit Submit, and remember to keep in mind those time zones differences if applicable.
This is a very busy time of year for high school seniors, but one of the most important things they must also do is keep their grades up. A mid-year report is sent by the guidance counselors to the schools that have admitted you, as well as the others the student has applied to. There have been known to be consequences, such as an offer of admission being withdrawn, should there be a drop on the academic profile. So, good luck to all and keep your eye on the prize!