12-Point Checklist for Before You Submit Your College Application
Your college applications are finally complete, and you’re ready to send them off. Whew—congratulations! The hardest part is officially behind you. Before you push that important “Submit” button or put that envelope in the mail, though, make sure that you’ve given everything one last look.
In this post, we’ll outline our 11-point checklist for reviewing your application before you finally submit it. Don’t send your college applications before considering these final touches; the stakes are too high to slack now!
1. Read Your Application Out Loud
This is the simplest way to give your entire application one last review. Read through the entire thing out loud, even the parts that aren’t complete sentences (like lists of activities). Take care to review things like your mailing address, school name, and specific award titles. These are details that sometimes tend to blend into the background after you’ve reviewed something repeatedly.
If you want to nail this part, you could even trade applications with a friend and read them aloud to each other. There’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to catch a careless typo.
2. Review Your Essay(s)
Your essays are one of the single most important pieces of your application. They provide a rare glimpse into who you are as a person and allow you to express yourself using your voice. For this reason, it’s extra important to make sure that they are squeaky clean. Review your essay meticulously, read it aloud, and have a friend read it aloud back to you to be sure there aren’t any typos or careless errors.
3. Check for Inconsistencies
It’s important to be consistent with the information you provide on college applications, particularly when it comes to the length of your activities and commitments. Make sure that all the sections of your application appropriately reflect the duration of your engagement.
For instance, let’s say you’ve been doing an activity for 3.5 years. It will not look good if you claim in your essay that you have been involved in that activity for four years, while putting it on your activities list as a three-year commitment. Admissions committees may become concerned about inconsistencies, and might start to doubt your attention to detail or the accuracy of your application if there are such discrepancies. To present a consistent and trustworthy application, it is crucial to confirm the accuracy of these details and to double-check them for consistency.
4. Make Sure You Didn’t Leave Anything Out
Spend some time carefully going over each activity you list on your college application to make sure nothing is missed. Think back on all of your experiences—both inside and outside of the classroom—to compile a complete picture of your involvement and accomplishments.
Don’t hesitate to ask relevant coaches, cast members, managers, or anyone else who may be of assistance if you have any questions or concerns regarding the specifics of any activity. To make sure that your application appropriately represents your experiences, this step is essential.
Also don’t forget to think about any inquiries an admissions officer might have regarding your application. Use the “additional information” section if there are any aspects of your profile or experiences that require more context or explanation.
The “additional information” section can be a useful place to discuss exceptional circumstances, go into detail about one-of-a-kind experiences, or give background information on parts of your application that might not be immediately obvious. Taking the time to thoughtfully fill out this section will help admissions committees better understand your background and experiences, which will improve your application significantly.
5. Confirm Recommendations
You aren’t the only person responsible for submitting important materials as part of your college application, but you are the person to whom the application matters most. Be sure to double-check with your recommenders to confirm that recommendations have been submitted or are on their way. Touching base a few weeks in advance ensures that you won’t get a last-minute rushed letter of recommendation.
6. If You’re Submitting an Arts Portfolio, Make Sure Everything Works
For students submitting a portfolio or separate arts supplement, you’ll also need to review these materials. If you’re uploading a visual arts portfolio, be certain that each file has been uploaded correctly, is oriented in the correct direction, and accurately depicts all colors and details. If you’re uploading audio or video files, watch or listen to each one in its entirety before submitting.
Finally, if you provide links to any outside materials, such as a blog or online portfolio, double-check each one to make sure that it’s functional.
7. Proofread for Grammar and Spelling
This is not just a quick scan of the text for errors. It entails carefully checking your application for overall readability, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Even little mistakes can give the appearance that one is careless. For a preliminary check, use digital tools like spellcheck
Nevertheless, keep in mind that such tools often miss context-specific problems. Here, a second pair of eyes may be quite helpful. Think about inviting a mentor, instructor, or someone with excellent writing abilities to look over your application. They can offer an alternative viewpoint and point out errors that you might have missed.
8. Research and Tailor Your Application to Each College
Adding personal touches to your application demonstrates that you have done your research and have a sincere interest in the university. This could entail making mention of particular classes, instructors, research opportunities, or extracurricular activities that fit with your objectives and areas of interest.
Describe how these components integrate into your goals for your studies and career. It’s about proving that your goals for your higher education path align with what the college has to offer. Applying with customization can pay big dividends, particularly in competitive admissions procedures.
9. Submit Your Standardized Test Scores
Many colleges now offer test-optional policies, which give you the choice of whether or not to submit results from standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, or AP exams. This is part of the changing landscape of college admissions. It may be helpful to submit your scores if your scores are strong and you think that they improve your application.
On the other hand, test-optional policies allow you to apply without taking the tests if you believe that your results don’t truly represent your academic abilities or if you haven’t been able to take them because of other circumstances.
You can access your account on the College Board website and manage your SAT results. To view the list of colleges to which you’ve sent this report, navigate to your dashboard, select ‘View Details’ for a particular score report, and then select ‘Score Sends.’ A similar procedure can be found on the ACT website for ACT scores.
Remember to take into account your AP results as well, particularly if they highlight your areas of strength in particular subjects. Recall that the secret is to carefully consider whether these scores enhance your application given the particular requirements and guidelines of each college.
10. Review the State Residency Requirement Form (if necessary)
If you are applying to a college with residency requirements, you’ll need to confirm that your state residency requirement form is filled out correctly and accurately. If this portion of your application is not completed or is inaccurate, you could be deemed ineligible for in-state tuition rates.
11. Verify All Deadlines and Submission Methods
The dates for early decision, early action, regular decision, and financial aid applications may vary depending on the college. Put reminders on your calendar or planner and note these deadlines. Recognize the submission procedures as well. Certain universities utilize their own systems, the Coalition Application, or the Common Application. It’s imperative to confirm that you fulfill the particular prerequisites of each college to prevent last-minute anxiety or lost possibilities.
12. Utilize Outside Resources to Your Advantage
When reviewing your written materials, you can also take advantage of our free Peer Essay Review tool, which allows you to receive a complimentary review of your essay from a fellow student. Additionally, reviewing essays written by other students can be a great way to enhance your own reading and writing abilities.
For those seeking a more expert perspective, CollegeVine advisors are available to assist. They have a strong track record of aiding students in honing their essays and submitting compelling applications to leading universities. Explore and choose an advisor that suits your needs to boost your likelihood of gaining admission to your ideal college!