26 Weeks to College: Week 16

Everything you need to know about finalizing your applications before submitting...
October 19, 2020

It’s midway through October and deadlines for early applications are just around the corner. Everything is accelerating and intensifying, and you may be feeling completely STRESSED out. 


But take a breath. If you’ve been following the 26 Weeks plan, then you are more than ready to finalize your early applications. If you haven’t been following the 26 Weeks plan, you’ve got to play catch up right now. You still have a couple of weeks before most early deadlines. You can get caught up with previous posts in the series here.

WEEK 16 TO–DOS

THIS WEEK

  • 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.

  • Finalize your early applications. Finalizing is the crucial last step before submission. 

  • Check in with your recommenders and alert them where you will be applying early, so they can get their recommendations in on time.

  • Check in with your school counselor and make sure you’ve completed all the forms your school requires in order for your transcript and counselor recommendation to be submitted. Confirm whether there are any other procedures you need to be aware of from the school side.

  • Revise and finalize your answer to the extra COVID question. See our Tips & Tricks from Week 15.

  • Revise any additional information or required explanatory essays. See our Tips & Tricks from Week 14.

  • Continue working on the rest of your essays. If you’ve been on the three-week writing cycle since Week 7, you will have finished three full sets of essays by now and you’ll probably be close to done. But if you’ve lost a little steam, refocus and pick up where you left off.

  • Revise the last set of short answers that you drafted last week. 

  • Keep checking for virtual college events hosted by the colleges on your list and prepare for/attend those on your calendar. See our tips and tricks in Week 5 and Week 11 for why you should attend and how you should prepare.

  • Continue working on your FAFSA, CSS/PROFILE forms and any other college-specific financial aid applications.


THIS WEEK AND EVERY WEEK

  • 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. 


TIPS AND TRICKS


1. Your applications aren’t final until you’ve answered ALL the questions, including all the pesky ones, like which term you want to start, what decision plan you’re using, what major(s) interest you and the rest. Take your time and work through each application in its entirety. If you need to do some research in order to answer the question, do it! Don’t blow it by winging it with these answers. You can get hints and help with these questions for Common App colleges by downloading Inline, a killer app for giving you hints for all the questions on Common App applications.

2. Your applications aren’t final until they are error-free. Errors in your application detract from the positive impression you are trying to make. Grammatical and spelling errors reflect badly on your academic abilities. Typos or other errors in completing the application suggest carelessness or indifference, both of which work against you. That’s why you have to proofread your application very, very carefully. For a proofreading checklist and further tips on proofreading, refer to Chapter 11 in our book or the relevant sections in Inline.

3. Your applications aren’t final until you’ve arranged for all the necessary supporting documents to be sent. Which supporting documents are required varies from college to college, so check their website for what needs to be sent with each application. A typical set of supporting documents would include your counselor recommendation and transcript (both sent by your school), your teacher recommendations, and — if you are applying with test scores — your official test score reports (sent by the College Board or ACT). (Special note: in this particular season, most of you will not be submitting test scores, because you haven’t been able to take them because of the global pandemic. And that’s completely fine.) 


After you’ve finalized your early applications, take a breath. Submitting them comes next week (if deadlines allow), so you have a bit of time to make sure all your ducks are in a row and reflect on whether there are any final, final changes you want to make.


Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the book How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

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