Your Comprehensive College Application Checklist

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Applying to colleges can feel like a full-time job, but we want to make it a little easier on you by preparing you for what most colleges need in your application. When you grab your laptop or head to the library to work on applications, it helps to have everything you need beforehand.

Here is a comprehensive checklist just for you!

Each college varies, but this will give you a great place to start. Why not print this out and keep it handy!

Talk to your school counselor (Make sure you’re on track for graduating and have met all requirements)

Download or print the application

Find out the early application deadline (some colleges will have a deadline as early as January 1)

Know the regular application deadline (Don’t miss this or there will be tears)

Request high school transcripts to be sent to the college (sometimes you can include unopened transcripts yourself)

Take an admission test if required

Take other required tests and send scores (like SAT Subject Tests, AP or IB Exams)

Request recommendation letters (Ask a few trusted people to write a recommendation letter for you. Make sure you give them a deadline for when you need it and be available for questions.)

Send a thank-you note (or email or phone call) to those who wrote a recommendation letter

Write your essay (Be creative and take a risk! Most colleges are looking for unique voices.)

Have one or two people proofread your essay

Revise your essay (and proofread again)

Interview on the phone or at the college campus if required (and send a thank you note)

Complete your college application (Double check the website. You’ve got everything, right?)

Make copies (or email yourself scanned PDFs) of all application materials

Pay the application fee (If you can’t afford the payment, ask your school counselor for help requesting a fee waiver. If your parents help with this, make them breakfast!)

Sign and send your application (Proofread your application and make sure you spelled your name right. Then send it off and say a little prayer!)

Confirm the college received all your application materials

Know the deadline for applying for financial aid (there will be a priority deadline and a regular deadline)

FAFSA time (You’ll need fun things like your Social Security number, driver’s license, your/your parents W-2 forms and Federal Income Tax Returns and latest bank statement.)

Submit your FAFSA (Submit by the early deadline or February 1st at the latest – Don’t miss this deadline!)

Submit the college aid form (Apply for any grant you meet the requirement for)

Submit the state aid form if you’re applying in-state

Receive your acceptance letter from the office of admission (wave it in the air)

Receive your financial aid award letter (do the happy dance)

Accept admission by deadline and send the deposit (You’re almost there!)

Accept financial aid offer by the deadline

Notify any colleges you were accepted to that you won’t be attending

Research options and fill out scholarship applications (apply for any and all you are qualified for)

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Esther Laurie is a staff writer at Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.