By: Contributor On: December 15, 2011 In: Applying to College, High School Comments: 0

With most US college application deadlines coming up on January 1, we figured that there’s thousands of applicants out there who could use a checklist to make sure they’ve completed everything that needs to be done.

There’s nothing worse than putting in all that hard work only to have your application discounted because you neglected to submit some form or letter at the last minute!

From recommendation letters to personal essays and transcripts, there is a lot to keep track of throughout the college application process.

We understand how much you have on your plate at the moment, so hopefully this checklist will help keep you organized, set your mind at ease and ensure that everything is in order with your college applications.

Without further ado, don’t forget your:

1. Application Forms

Perhaps the most obvious item on our checklist, it can’t hurt to double check that you’ve filled out and submitted all of the basic application forms for each college you are applying to. Whether you are using the Common Application or completing a separate form for each college, having these forms submitted on time is absolutely essential.

2. High School Transcript

College applications are not complete without a record of your grades in high school, so be sure that the required documentation is submitted to colleges by their applicable deadlines. (If your records are not in English, this means getting a certified transcript translation.)

If that means getting on the case of your guidance counselor (or whoever is in charge of such records at your school) to send in the needed forms, so be it – don’t worry about being a pest. This is a very important part of your college application!

3. Personal Essays

Schools tend to have their own requirements when it comes to personal essays, so make sure you know what is needed for each one you are applying to. Even if you are using the Common Application, it is not uncommon for a college to require additional supplemental essays.

Just make sure that before submitting your essays and crossing this item off your checklist, you have proofread them carefully. Bad grammar and careless mistakes will not impress admissions counselors!

4. Recommendation Letters

The recommendation letters submitted with your college application give you the chance to display personal characteristics and strengths that may not be evident from reading your transcript. You don’t want to leave these out!

When asking people to write you letters of recommendation, be up front about the deadlines and don’t hesitate to follow up and remind them as the deadlines get closer. You want to mark this off your checklist as soon as possible.

5. Test Scores

Whether you are taking the SAT or ACT, or even the TOEFL if you are an international student, you want to make sure your scores are submitted to colleges by their required deadlines. Many schools have score submission deadlines separate from their college application deadlines, so check with each school you are applying to for verification. What good is all that time and effort spent taking (and retaking) these tests if admissions committees can’t even consider them?

6. Interview

Even if an admissions interview is not a required portion of your college application, try to do one. This is another great chance to put a face to your name and distinguish yourself from the thousands of other applications that will likely come through each college’s admissions office. This checklist item also includes any auditions or portfolio submissions which may be required if you are applying to a program in the performing or visual arts.

7. Financial Aid Documents

The last, but certainly not least important, thing on your checklist is to make sure you complete and submit all of the required forms and documentation for financial aid. From filling out the FAFSA to sending in tax returns, be sure to get everything done on time — this could make all the difference in being able to afford college. Be sure to check the deadline of each individual college, financial institution and/or other organization.

While this checklist covers most of the important things you will need to get done for your college applications, there may be more, depending on what schools and programs you are applying to. Check with each college and, if anything is missing, add it to this checklist to ensure you comply with all the application requirements and get everything in by the correct deadline.

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