During this first week of November many high school students are preparing their applications for the Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA) and Priority applications due dates. November 1st was the first of these deadlines with others as late as November 10th. In order to be prepared to submit their applications on time, students need to have begun their college application process fairly early to have the following points ready to submit a strong application:
• Complete the Common App - Complete and proof the entire application carefully, and do the FERPA section. If your high school is using Naviance, make sure that you have linked it to your Common App. Note: Am noticing this year that students are leaving off information, especially extra curriculars, in the Activities Section of their Common App because they don’t think they count. Check here to see which activities do count. You’d be pleasantly surprised.
• Complete the college essay. Do not underestimate its importance. The primary objective of the personal statement is to provide insight on the student's character through a story, something that cannot be seen elsewhere in the application, so make sure to write an essay that does just that. A strong essay resembles more a journal entry or letter home vs the in-class English essay.
• Supplemental essays, short answer and optional questions. Always double check if the schools on your list require these. Often much shorter, they are not necessarily easier to write and there might be several that must respond to very specific prompts. Do not trivialize their importance and give yourself ample time to write them well because they are taken seriously.
• Finalize the remaining applications and be prepared to submit them. Proof all your applications carefully, looking for misspelled names, incorrect phone numbers or an essay that didn't upload correctly: unnecessary errors are a poor reflection on the student. Note: Yes, it's good to apply before your due date.
• Send your SAT/ACT score reports - Unless the schools you are applying to will accept your scores as they appear on the official transcript, you must send your score reports. Don't forget that you get four FREE score reports each time you register to take the SAT or ACT, so make sur to take advantage of that. Fee waivers, to either take the SAT/ACT or to pay for an application fee, are available to students that are eligible. Check with the guidance department for eligibility requirements.
• 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.
• Letters of recommendation. Colleges vary in the number of recommendations they want, but always make sure that your recommendors are listed on your Naviance/Common App accounts allowing them to upload their letters. The number of recommendations needed for each college can be found under the Recommendors and FERPA sections on the Common App.
• Keep your guidance counselor updated. Always keep your guidance counselor aware of any small change in your college applications. If you've decided to apply Early Decision instead of Early Action, or have decided to not apply to a particular school altogether, please show them the courtesy of keeping them informed.
• Check the status of your applications regularly for confirmation that the colleges have received your application and all supporting documentations. An application that is missing any key document will not be evaluated. It is the student's responsibility to keep track of the status of all of his/her applications and follow through on what hasn't yet arrived.
• Keep up those grades. Whether applying early or not, now is not the time to let those grades slip! This applies to all high school seniors applying to college, even if your applications are submitted. Colleges reserve the right to rescind an offer if there has been a serious drop in grades or if inappropriate behavior is found on social media.
One of the top application mistakes is missing deadlines!!