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College Application: Final Checklist Before Submission

Final Checklist before Submitting Your College Application

You’ve taken your exams, written your essays, and researched the schools you want to apply to. All you need to do now is to submit your college applications! But wait — are you forgetting anything? Here is a list of things to check for before you click that submit button!

1. Use your legal name.

Yes, this is supposed to be the easiest part of the college application; however, it is also the part of the application where you can easily make a mistake. If you are a U.S. citizen, your legal name needs to be written exactly as it is written on your Social Security Card. If you are a Green Card holder, write your name as it is on your passport.

Many students go by names that are not their legal names and make the mistake of putting their preferred names down as their legal names. When this happens, complications arise regarding financial aid—in many cases, students who make this mistake do not receive any financial aid at all.

2. Report your grades.

In the Common Application, you are required to report the courses that you are taking during the current academic year. Make sure to list them in the order that is in your high school transcript. Also, write the course names exactly how they appear on your transcript.

Schools that require Self-Reported Academic Records (SRAR), like Rutgers University or Pennsylvania State University, have a separate SRAR portal for which you need to make a separate account.

3. Report your test scores.

Many schools require you to send standardized test score reports through the testing organizations themselves (i.e., CollegeBoard or ACT). Keep in mind that the processing time is usually two (2) weeks. Most colleges and universities will not take test scores after the application deadline, and larger public state colleges will not accept rush reports.

Therefore, you need to submit your test scores in advance. For example, if you are applying to a school whose Early Decision deadline is November 1st, you should submit your test scores by October 18th, at the latest.

4. Complete the Activities section.

The Activities section is very similar to a resume because it illustrates who you are outside of the classroom. This section also makes your college application stronger by communicating  your academic interests, as well as the extracurricular activities that you may continue to pursue in college. The Activities section portrays you a three-dimensional person, rather than a two-dimensional paper application.

However, this is also what makes completing the Activities section difficult. On the Common Application, you only get 150 characters (note, not 150 words) to describe your greatest achievements and experiences in each activity. That is shorter than the length of a Tweet! However, when written well, these 150 characters can significantly bolster your application.

When you are listing your activities, make sure you display them in order of importance to you. If you were the president of a club or the student council, these activities would usually go first. Remember that the quality of the experience is much more important than the number of experiences. Show longevity rather than variety.

The Activities section requires you to quantify your commitments by using the number of hours in a week and the number of weeks in a year that you have dedicated to each activity. Just keep in mind that the average high school academic year is 36 weeks!

5. Make sure your personal essay is free of errors.

If you’ve made it this far, it likely means that you have an essay ready for submission. Wonderful!

Here’s a big tip however: do not write directly in the dialog box of the college application portals. There is a possibility that the website will crash or that there will be some computer trouble that causes you to lose your work. Always write your essay in a separate document, then copy and paste your work into the dialog box once you finish.

Although this rarely happens with the Common Application, many college application portals change punctuation symbols or ignore line spacing when copying and pasting the text into the dialog box. Before submission, look for these errors by printing your college application and reviewing the essay to make sure all characters appear the way you intended them to.

6. Complete the school-specific questions.

Most schools on the Common Application and the Coalition for College have supplementary application questions that are specific to the school.

Some example questions are:

  • Which academic program at X University interests you?
  • Are you applying to an honors program or dual degree program?
  • Do you have any relatives who are attending or have attended X University?

7. Complete your supplemental essays.

Make sure that you have prepared all of the required supplemental essays! One of the most common mistakes that students make is forgetting to prepare one of the multiple supplemental essays, or simply not noticing one of them. If you are submitting your college application close to or on the deadline date, this mistake can cost you the entire application.

Any additional supplemental essays for honors programs or special programs will also appear in this section once you have noted interest during the school-specific application questions.

8. Submit your resume, portfolio, additional files.

Make sure that you check the application requirements for the colleges you apply too! Some schools require resumes, such as Northeastern University and SUNY Stony Brook. Your resume, much like the Activities section, helps you to bring your application to life and is just as crucial as your supplemental essays. Do not leave your resume for the last minute!

For students applying to art programs, portfolio submissions are an extremely vital element of the application. Most art programs use SlideRoom for the portfolio submission, so make sure to sign up for an account in advance. Each school requires its own SlideRoom account.

Finally, for many schools, students can include additional files that highlight their activities and interests. Schools like SUNY Stony Brook and Bentley University use ZeeMee, in which you can showcase yourself through photos and videos. Some examples of additional files are recordings or videos of singing or playing an instrument, or newspaper articles or clippings featuring yourself.

To Sum Up

There is a lot to consider as you apply for college because there are many ways to showcase your talents and skills as a strong candidate. With this checklist in mind, you can plan to complete and submit your application with the utmost care.

For more college application guidance, explore our dedicated counseling services for aspiring college students! You can also sign up for a consultation with our college counselor at 855-346-1410, or email acs@mekreview.com directly for more information. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Jaehee Ahn

Jaehee A. is MEK Review's College Counseling Coordinator and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an alumnus of MEK Review's SAT Prep program. If you have any questions about our College Counseling programs or wish to set up a consultation, you can email Jaehee at acs@mekreview.com.

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