college application checklist

For some families, pushing the send button on their first round of applications for either Early Decision (a binding contract) or Early Action (non-binding applications) can be elating and a huge relief in a way words cannot begin to describe. The biggest challenge for most students afterwards, though, is summoning the motivation needed to finish any remaining applications so that they meet their Regular Action deadlines — it’s also a challenge for those charged with helping students, e.g. guidance counselors and parents, those wanting to bring closure to the process.

With Hurricane Sandy impacting many on the East Coast in one way or another, students who literally believed their deadline date was the day on which to submit an application, rather than the one to two weeks before that we so often encourage, received a big wake-up call. Though many colleges gave application deadline extensions due to power outages, it is not something one can anticipate happening again. So, what’s left, now that a few applications have been submitted? Here is a suggested list for seniors to follow — parents, take note.


  1. Check the status of any submitted application. Most colleges will send applicants an email confirmation with a user name and password within 48 hours of submission.
  2. Make sure to check the SPAM box on your email account.  Be sure colleges are not being blocked from communicating with you.
  3. Update your college list with your guidance counselor.  You want to make sure transcripts are being sent to all schools to which you’ve submitted an application — update your Naviance account if your school uses that program.
  4. Finalize your college application list.  Make sure you have not suddenly gotten overly ambitious and decided to add on a few “last minute stretch schools” or that you suddenly have not applied to any safety schools on your original list.
  5. Double check college websites to see if they offer or highly recommend an interview if you haven’t done one already. Register for an interview if it is recommended or “evaluative.”
  6. Practice for any potential interviews. Ask a teacher or family friend to do a “mock interview” with you in anticipation of any alumni or campus interviews.
  7. Finalize your resumé for any potential interview.
  8. Send thank you notes or drop by to visit teachers who wrote recommendations for you.  Express your thanks for the time and effort they put towards your college applications.
  9. Set a timeline or series of deadlines to get any final supplements or college essays and applications completed. Make sure you are done with all applications by Dec. 15th.
  10. Plan fun activities with family and friends for your winter break.  Give yourself an incentive to be done with your applications before you hear back from your EA/ED schools.

Bonus Reminder: Keep consistent grades through the midyear and beyond as most colleges will be getting your midyear grade report!



Written by Kara Courtois
Kara Courtois is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Kara holds degrees from University of Notre Dame and University of Portland; she completed her graduate coursework at Teachers College, Columbia University and Steinhardt School of Education. Prior to joining College Coach, Kara was a senior admissions officer at Barnard College. Visit our website to learn more about Kara Courtois.