Regardless of a college’s deadline date, do not wait until the night before to submit the application! However, once you have successfully submitted an application…please don’t forget the final pieces of the puzzle. The devil is always in the details, and you’ve got some details to look after!
- Make sure you printed a copy of the application for your records – as well as a confirmation of submission and payment of application fee.
- Unless you know for absolute certainty that your Guidance Office has already sent off your official transcript, march on down to the Guidance Office with pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes—one for each of the colleges to which you’re applying. You can find college admission office addresses on their websites, at www.commonapp.org or Naviance (if your school uses it), or through a Google search. Unless your school is using Naviance, don’t expect the guidance office to automatically send your transcripts. And it's fine to send transcripts even before you submit an application!
However, before your transcript is actually sent, check it thoroughly to be certain that everything is as it should be: classes, grades, and credits, service hours if they’re recorded, and SAT/ACT scores. Most private high schools do not include test scores on the transcript, which is fine. However, many public high schools do include scores, and it’s a good idea to ask your counselor to remove scores you’re legitimately not sending to colleges (which he or she can typically do through someone at the School District office).
- What’s the status of your recommendations? UF doesn’t want any, nor do most other state universities in Florida. However, all Common App colleges require at least one recommendation. Through the Common App, Naviance, or a college’s online portal, you can check to see which recommendations have been submitted. Make sure your recommenders have followed through in a timely fashion – or remind them again of your request for a recommendation.
- Send your test scores in time to meet the application deadlines! Scores that may appear on your transcript are not “official.” Send your ACT or SAT scores, Subject Test scores and/or TOEFL scores – depending on each college’s guidelines. You’re the one who orders the score reports through College Board or ACT. These organizations will send your official score report directly to the colleges to which you’re applying. If you’ve already sent your scores but retook a test and got a higher score, then send an updated score report! And it's fine to send an official score report even before you submit an application. Most colleges do not require an official AP or IB score report until you’ve made a commitment to attend that college.
- Be sure to have your parents complete the appropriate financial aid forms. If you feel you may qualify for financial aid, your parents should fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon after January 1 as possible. Some universities also require the CSS profile or their own form for financial aid or scholarships. Don’t let this important part of the application process slip away from you: deadlines are strict and tend to be around this time of year. You should be aware, however, that not all colleges are need-blind and applying for financial aid can have a slightly negative impact on your application at colleges that are not need-blind.
Next semester you’ll apply for Bright Futures through your high school. Even if you don’t plan to go to college in Florida, you should still apply for Bright Futures because if you ever return to Florida for college, you can get a Bright Futures scholarship only if you applied for it during your senior year of high school.
- Demonstrate your interest. An official college visit, including information session and tour, improves your chances of admission at most private universities. You can arrange to meet with an admissions counselor, faculty members, and students; attend a class or two and even do an overnight in a residence hall. One enormous benefit of a visit is getting that real taste of campus life, allowing you to determine if the fit is right for you. (And if you haven’t yet submitted your application, this visit will help you write a much stronger “Why college X?” essay.)
- Check the status of your application about a week after you submit it. Most colleges provide an online portal through which you can check the status of your application to make sure it’s complete.
Before a college will consider you for admission, your file must be “complete,” which means the college must have received everything required:
- Your completed application (complete with any required essays)
- Your official transcript (but not for UF, FSU, or any University of California college)
- Your official SAT and/or ACT score report
- Required recommendations
- Application fee (if there is one)
If even one item is missing, then your application is not really complete – and you won’t yet be considered for admission.
You’re almost done with this process—you’re in the home stretch. Just one or two more things…
Most colleges require a mid-year report with an updated official transcript to reflect your first semester grades. Make the necessary arrangements with your guidance counselor as this isn’t going to happen automatically. You can continue to show interest in each college by sending a brief letter in the winter to showcase any new activities and achievements.Keep your grades up – and stay positive! And please let me know what my staff or I can do to help. And, of course, let me know when you press SUBMIT.
P.S. If you’re applying to FSU, the first deadline is TODAY! ― October 15 – don’t miss it! And remember that FSU needs to have one set of scores on file by that date, even if you plan to send another set of scores. At this time of year, if you haven’t done it yet, you can RUSH REPORT scores through collegeboard.org or actstudent.org.