NEW! Build your college list in 8 minutes with our free college list generator!

NEW! Build your college list in 8 minutes with our free college list generator!

Is there a checklist of everything I need to do to apply to college?

Jul 11, 2018

It’s stressful applying to college. The good news is that we’ve been there and have put together a cohesive checklist that includes pretty much everything you need to worry about over the course of the next few months. Gear up, rising seniors–the time from now until December will fly by!

Fulfill all testing requirements ASAP

(If you have not taken either the ACT or SAT, register immediately for an end-of-summer test date. The same thing goes for SAT Subject Tests. If you don’t have at least 3 Subject Test scores that you’re happy with, be sure to register for more test(s) and take them by early Fall).

Ask for teacher recommendation letters early

(If it’s November and you’re asking for teacher rec letters, it might be too late. Your teachers have a lot on their plates and are likely writing letters for many other students, as well. Ask for your letters as early as you can in order to be the respectful, considerate student we know you are! Don’t forget to write a thank-you note after they agree).

Register for a Common App account and fill in all biographical information

(Go to and fill out the questions with a parent nearby).

Draft your main Common App essay

(For tips on how to get started, click here).

Craft your activities list

(Remember all of those cool extracurriculars you did in high school? Now’s the time to put them to paper. Be sure to use specific examples of how you demonstrated leadership or enacted change in the organizations you were a part of).

Write your supplemental essays

(Check out each school you’re applying to on the Common App and carefully assess what supplemental essays you’ll need to complete. Many of these can be carefully tweaked to fit multiple prompts).

Request an official school transcript

(Check with your high school about submitting an official transcript to the schools you’re applying to. Administrators at your school should do this for you, but ask to confirm that it’s done on time).

File a Common App fee waiver, if applicable

(If like many students you find that application fees (usually $60-85 per school) pose a financial burden, you can ask that the schools on your Common App waive their application fee).

Revise, revise, revise

(Ask anyone who you think will make for a thoughtful reader to review your college application essays. Listen carefully to their suggestions, but remember that at the end of the day your essays should sound like you–not like anybody else.)


(Hit the ‘send’ button, sit back, relax, and enjoy the holidays with family and friends! You’ve earned it).