College Application Checklist

If you want to get accepted to college, you must have a good college application. The application process can be tricky.

There are a lot of different sections, as well as deadlines that you have to meet.

All of these things can make the process pretty stressful for college-bound high school students.

In this article, we’ll walk through all the necessary steps that you will need to follow in order to submit a good college application.

Follow along with this college application checklist…

  • Step 1 – Get your list of colleges together.

You can’t apply to college until you know what schools you want to apply to. Take some time to research various schools’ websites. Request additional information – brochures, catalogs, etc.

Talk with your family, they know you best. Run your list of potential schools by them to get their opinions and take their thoughts into consideration.

Once you come up with your final list, make sure you visit the campus. Campus visits are the best way for you to tell if a college is truly the best fit for you.

  • Step 2 – Gather the applications.

Now that you’re ready to apply to the 5-7 schools on your list, you should make a list of all the schools and their application deadline.

If you send in your application after the deadline, then it won’t be accepted.  Don’t risk this!  Take the time now to get those application deadlines down.

  • Step 3 – Fill out the applications.

Carefully read all of the application instructions first! Once you’re done, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Have you answered all the questions?
2. Is your handwriting legible?
3. Have you proofread the application for grammar and spelling errors?
4. Did someone else proofread it?
5. Did you sign it?
6. Did you include the application fee? Or did you include the application fee waiver?

  • Step 4 – Transcripts & ACT/SAT Scores.

Your application will require you to have additional supporting documentation to verify your grades, class rank, and score on standardized exams.

In order to make sure you have everything, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Have you sent your official high school transcript to each college?
2. Have you sent your ACT and/or SAT scores to each college?
3. Have you sent your SAT Subject Tests scores to each college (if applicable)?
4. Have you sent your Advanced Placement (AP) test scores to each college (if applicable)?

  • Step 5 – Get references & Write essays. 

Recommendation letters and college admissions essays are a huge part of the college application process. Before submitting your application, answer the following questions:

1. Have you completed all the required essays?
2. Are you comfortable with the quality of your essay? (If not, solicit feedback from others)
3. Have you given your personal reference form to your guidance counselor?
4. Did your guidance counselor send your personal reference letter to each respective college?
5. Have you given the required forms to your other references?
6. Did they complete them and send them to each respective college?

  • Step 6 – Fill out Financial Aid forms.

When applying for financial aid, you have to fill out the proper forms. Before submitting your application, answer the following questions:

1. Did you complete the FAFSA form? (
2. Did you complete PROFILE? (
3. Did you complete any private scholarship forms that you wanted to apply for?
4. Did you complete all school-specific scholarships (if applicable)?

  • Step 7 – Schedule the interview.

Do any of the schools on your list require you to have an interview? If so, make sure you call them to have it scheduled.  In preparation for the interview, consider the following questions:

1. Why are you interested in this school?
2. What are you planning to study and why?
3. What will you contribute to the campus?

Once each college has evaluated your application, you will receive a letter in the mail or an email letting you know if you’ve been accepted. Most colleges will send you a letter/email by May 1st.

In order to submit a good college application, you should follow the steps above. Good Luck! Before you know it, your mailbox will be full of acceptance letters!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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