26 Weeks to College: Week 13

Before you submit your first application, do a final check
October 31, 2019

You may be tempted to think that you're basically done. Almost. Remember that every single part of your application matters, so before you hit that submit button, double-check that you've made the best use of the non-essay parts of the application forms as well. We have a bunch of tips below to help you do that.

Now that you've finished all of the components of your first application, you should take one more careful look at the application as a whole. Does it come together into a coherent and compelling story about you? If it does, then you have produced a standout college application — an application that presents you at your very best and maximizes your chances for admission. The best and easiest way to review your application as a whole is to assemble your own application file and then read it from start to finish just as an admissions officer would.

And finally, we'll talk about some important logistical things to check off your list before you hit the submit button. You can download your free version of Inline to do a final check of your online application components.



  • Submit your early application(s).
  • Interview with colleges.
  • Check the websites of colleges on your list to see if and when admissions representatives will be coming to a place near you.
  • Meet with college representatives.
  • Continue working on your CSS/PROFILE forms and college financial aid applications (see last week).
  • Prep for your upcoming standardized tests.


  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.


1. Check that you've filled out the factual questions accurately and to your advantage. What are factual questions? These are questions asking you about you and your family: your age, your gender, your state of residence, your citizenship, your languages, your ethnicity or race, and your veteran status. If you don't feel as if the boxes on the application really represent who you are, check the ones that come closest, and then use the Additional Information section of the application to elaborate. If you're a legacy, see if you can work that in. Also make sure to use your legal name on all your college application documents so that your name is consistent (that will save you lots of headaches later). Follow the U.S. format for dates (month/day/year). List a reliable snail-mail address. Proofread!

2. Check that you haven't missed any miscellaneous questions. Those are questions about whether you're applying for financial aid, your academic interests, and any demonstrated interest in that particular college ("Have you visited?" "How did you learn about our college?"). Don't have particular career interests yet? It's OK if that's still up in the air. But you should at least be able to articulate your academic interests. (College is an academic enterprise, after all.) Make sure that the interests you list align with your story (Week 2). If you are on the fence about whether to apply for financial aid (most people aren't on the fence; they either do or don't need financial aid), check whether the college is "need blind" or "need aware" — you might decide that it's not worth applying for financial aid at a "need aware" school if you can afford to do without it. If a school's admissions website doesn't explicitly say that it is "need blind," assume that it is need aware.

3. Make sure you know which program or division you're applying to. Some colleges have just one application for the entire undergraduate program, and you can decide once you get to that college what division you want to be in and what you want to major in. But other schools make you decide upfront whether you're applying to a particular division (or program or college-within-the-college). For example, some schools make you decide at the application stage whether you're applying to the School of Liberal Arts or to the School of Engineering. Make sure to read the instructions for each college carefully so that your application ends up in the right hands.

4. Check that your activities list conveys the Core Four. Go back to the work you did in Week 2 and as you review your activities list in the application, make sure you've communicated all the activities that tell your story, and that you've conveyed the Core Four (don't forget impact in particular). Also make sure you've made use of the space available to you in the activities list.

5. Proofread. What more can we say about this? It's important. Do it.

6. Respect deadlines. College application deadlines are not targets. They are not suggestions. They are not wiggly. They are firm. No exceptions! Don't wait until 11:59 pm the night that an application is due to hit the submit button. Technical difficulties can and do sometimes happen.

7. Save a copy. Using the Preview feature of the online application, save a PDF copy of the application you're submitting to your hard drive (or in the cloud), and also print a hard copy. Add each one to your digital and paper filing systems respectively.

8. VERY IMPORTANT: Confirm submission before logging out. Print a copy of the online page that confirms you've submitted. You'll need it in case there are technical glitches with the online application system. That way, if your submission date ever becomes an issue, you can give the college proof that you did in fact submit on time.

And then... breathe. You've earned it.

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