High School Senior Year is the gateway to your child’s adult life, and the choices your child makes will greatly impact his/her future. Parents’ help during college application process is crucial! This process needs lots of preparation because it does have many steps and involves a lot of research and paperwork, such as college application essay. To follow the college application schedule and meet deadline dates is the key. Here is a College Application Checklist.
After we have done some research, we compile the following College Application Checklist for parents and students to help you preparing College Application Process. This handy list serves guidelines for parents and high school senior students get organized and are well prepared.
- Remember that gaining admission to college is just one step in a process of education; the goal is to find the most suitable college where your child can maximize his/her talents, potential and growth.
- Listen to, encourage, and believe in your child. Your child plays the main role of his/her college application process; parents should be involved in the process and provide a good guidance and support.
- Remember that skills, self-confidence, curiosity, and desire to learn are some of the most important factors in a quality education and successful college admission. Do not overemphasize on getting into the “best” college by sacrificing these important things.
- Consider using an Excel spreadsheet to track the status of your college applications including test scores, transcript, recommendations, resume, essay, etc.
- Write important dates and deadlines on a calendar for each application including application forms, financial aid forms, transcript requests, testing, teacher recommendations, etc.
1. Make a College List
- Talk with your child on his/her interests of majors and schools and think about jobs, careers, and skills
- Check with your child to make sure that he/she is aware of the standardized test requirements for each school interested
- With your child together, do some research and create a list of interesting colleges
- Make sure that your child’s list includes:
- At least one state college if your child is interested in public schools
- At least one “safety” school
- At least one “reach” school
- Create a list of application and financial aid deadlines for each school using the Excel spreadsheet.
2. Meet with your Guidance Counselor
- Talk with your counselor about your college list, ask his/her opinion
- Review your transcript and co-curricular records with your school counselor to ensure their accuracy.
- Ask your Guidance Counselor whether he/she can write one recommendation letter for you.
3. Register SA/ACT Tests
- Register for the October/November SAT Reasoning Test and/or SAT Subject Tests, or September/October ACT.
4. Request Recommendation Letters
- Decide which teachers / coaches / advisors/employers/community professionals you will ask for recommendation letter and discuss this with them( ideally in May or June of your junior year)
- At least three weeks before the due date, ask your counselor and teachers, employers, or coaches to write recommendation letters.
- Obtain “Request for Letter of Recommendation” from your counselor or from the school website, fill out and give it to each person who will write a recommendation for you. To attach a copy of your activities resume is a good idea.
- Provide a copy of each college-specific recommendation form
- Provide each teacher with a stamped, neatly addressed envelope with the College Admissions address for each college you are applying to and using your high school for the return address
- Provide a due date for each recommendation
- Teachers will mail their recommendations directly to the colleges
- Write thank-you notes to those who write recommendations and keep them informed of your decisions.
- Make sure to request the exact number of recommendations required by the schools you applying to. Most colleges require applicants to submit at least one recommendation letter; some require two.
5. Good Grade
- Be sure your first quarter grades are good.
6. Obtaining Applications
- Determine whether to apply Early Decision, Early Action, Rolling Admissions, Regular Admissions for each school
- Request applications by on-line, e-mail or phone
- Request the college supplement for colleges using the Common Application
- Read all material carefully and pay special attention to:
- College requirements (test scores, recommendation letters, financial aid forms, resume, and interview, etc.)
- Forms need to be given to your counselor
- Essays and short answer questions
- Keep each application in a separate folder or large envelope
- Update the list of application deadlines for each school with required materials
7. Fill College Application Forms
- Confirm that application form is completed for each of the colleges on the list.
- Check each application form to make sure it is complete and accurate.
- Some applications are available through the Common Application.
8. Personal Statement
- Make sure that your personal statement has completed
9. Rolling Admissions, Early Decision and Early Action:
- Submit the completed application as soon as possible. Applications should be submitted prior to sending transcript requests to Guidance.
- Summit online or mail applications in time to reach the colleges by the deadlines.
- Check with your guidance counselor to make sure your transcript and test scores have been/will be sent to the colleges to which you are applying.
- Keep track of deadlines and ensure that all required information is submitted by the due date.
- Also prepare applications for back-up schools.
10. Register SA/ACT tests
- If you have not completed the required tests or if you are not happy with your previous test scores and think you can do better, register for the December/January SAT Reasoning Test and/or SAT Subject Tests, or December ACT test.
11. Take SAT/ACT testes
- Don’t forget to have test scores sent to colleges on your list, if you want to.
12. Completing/Submitting Applications
- Read all instruction and fill in each application neatly, completely and accurately.
- Give yourself sufficient time to write and edit essays and short answer questions.
- Make sure you have a parent / guardian proof read the application including essays and short answer questions.
- Consider including your activities resume.
- If applying online, sign the application, complete any supplementary forms and pay the application fee using a credit card.
- If using a paper application, sign the application, complete and attach any supplementary forms and include a check for the application fee.
- Make copies of all applications before mailing the applications.
- If you need financial aid, obtain a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online or from your guidance office. Check to see if the colleges to which you are applying require any other financial aid form. Register for the CSS Profile if required and obtain the college’s own financial aid forms, if available.
- Keep all records, test score reports and copies of applications for admission and financial aid until at least the end of your first year in college. These may help you apply in the future to other colleges and scholarship programs.
13. Sending College Admission Test Scores
- If you are ready, have your test scores sent to each college that you are applying to
- Colleges will only accept official test scores sent by the testing agency
- Go to www.collegeboard.com for SAT and SAT II Subject Tests
- Go to www.actstudent.org for ACT
14. Requesting Transcripts
- Use a Transcript Request Form available from Guidance to have your counselor send your transcripts directly to each college.
- Submit one form per college. Fill out completely and include 3 stamps along with each form.
- If the college requires any additional materials such as counselor form, secondary school report, be sure to fill out the student portion of these forms and submit to your Guidance Counselor along with the transcript request.
- Give forms to your counselor. Allow 10 working days for your counselor to process and submit transcript to college. Subsequent requests will require 5 working days to process.
15. Sending official test scores
- Confirm that your official test scores have been sent to colleges on your list
16. Receiving an answer of early decision
- If you applied for early decision, you should have an answer by now. If you are accepted, follow the instructions for admitted students. If the decision is deferred until spring or you are denied, submit applications now to other colleges.
17. Prepare apply Financial Aid and Scholarship
- Apply for FAFSA pin at www.pin.ed.gov . The student and parent must have a pin.
18. Private College Application Packets
- Make sure to submit your private college application packets on time.
- Before sending the application packets, check to see whether all of the necessary components, listed below, are included in the packets:
- College application form
- Personal statement
- Recommendation Letter(s)
- Any additional information or documents requested by a specific school
- Complete the College Board’s CSS profile for private colleges beginning in December 1st.
19. Sending first semester grades
- Request your counselor to send the transcript of your first semester grades to the colleges to which you applied.
20. Apply Financial Aid
- Complete your income tax forms as soon as possible.
- Fill out the FAFSA, complete and return your FAFSA as quickly as possible after January 1.
- Check to make sure your colleges or state does not require any other financial aid forms. If they do, consult your guidance counselor or contact the college’s financial aid office.
21. Track your each application
- Remember to track your applications to be sure that all materials are sent and received on time and that they are complete.
22. Receive your Student Aid Report (SAR)
- If you completed a FAFSA, you should receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within four weeks after submitting the FAFSA. Review the SAR carefully and check for any inaccuracies. If necessary, correct any items on the SAR and return it to the FAFSA processor (if a college transmitted your data directly, notify the college of any change).
- If more than four weeks have passed after sending in your FAFSA and you have not received an acknowledgment, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (319) 337-5665. To identify you, they will need your name, social security number, address, and date of birth exactly as it was written on your FAFSA.
23. Apply Scholarship
- Complete scholarship applications. Apply for as many as you can.
24. Maintain good grades
- Stay focused and keep studying
25. Review the SAR
- Review the SAR with your child to make sure that you reported accurate information and that the Department of Education did not make mistakes in calculating your EFC. Pay special attention to:
- Family income
- Student income
- Student and family tax contribution
- Number of immediate family members currently enrolled in college
- Family and student savings and interest-earned
- Be sure to look at the third page of the SAR for your next stes, tax filing information, and additional sources for help.
- If there is no EFC on your SAR, the Department of Education will instruct you to provide more information.
- If you notice a mistake on your SAR, contact the Department of Education as soon as possible at (800) 433-3143.
26. Submit rolling admission application as early as possible
- For rolling admission applications, some colleges do not have application deadlines; they admit students on a continuous basis. However, these schools may reach their maximum class size quickly.
27. Review your college acceptances and financial aid offers
- Determine the largest amount of money per school year that your family is able to contribute to your child’s college tuition
- Make sure to compare financial aid packages in your decision-making process.
- Send your tuition deposit and follow all other instructions for admitted students, if you decided which college you will attend. You must decide which offer of admission to accept by May 1 (postmark date).
- Make sure you have applied for housing and completed and sent all paperwork to the university
- Notify those colleges that you have selected another college.
28. Confirm you sent everything needed to the college you will be attending in the fall
- By May 1, decide on the one college that you will attend and send in your tuition deposit to the college. Notify the other colleges that accepted you that you have selected another college.
29. Be patient if you are on the waiting list
- If your first-choice college places you on their waiting list, do not lose all hope. Some students are admitted off the waiting list. Talk with your counselor, and contact the college to let them know you are still very interested. Keep the college updated on your activities.
30. Take AP exams
- Take Advanced Placement examinations
- If appropriate and request that your AP scores be sent to the college you will attend.
31. Send your final transcript
- Request your counselor to send your final transcript to the college you will attend.
32. Notify the college
- Any private scholarships or grants you will be receiving.
33. Collect related information for the college
- Know when the payment for tuition, room and board, meal plans, etc., is due. If necessary, ask the financial aid office about a possible payment plan that will allow for you to pay in installments.
34. Make a budget
- Help your child create a budget for the upcoming school year so that he/she can successfully manage his/her money.
35. Prepare to go to the college
- Look for information in the mail from the college about housing, roommate(s), orientation, course selection, etc. Respond promptly to all requests from the college during August-September.
- Help your child collect and pack the items that he/she will need for college.
You will be in charge of your academic and personal life. What you do, when you do it and how things get done will be up to you. You’ll have new responsibilities and challenges. Think about budgeting your time and establishing priorities. Take charge of the changes that lie ahead and eliminate or minimize pressures. Go forth with confidence and enthusiasm, willingness to adapt and determination to succeed academically and personally. Be prepared for the new opportunities and challenges. Have a great freshman year!
To Parents and Students:
College Preparation Congratulations!!! Both parents and students have done a wonderful job!!! Celebrate together! Hope this College Application Checklist is helpful!