The fall of Senior year is one of the busiest and most important times for the college application process. With application due dates quickly approaching, be sure you're ahead of the game with these important reminders leading up to the November Early Decision/Early Action deadlines.
Develop a plan for Early and Regular Decision and and make a steady plan to work on your applications now. You’ll want to maintain your awesome GPA, so don’t leave all the hard work until the last minute.
Many schools ask for a resume, so finalize that list of activities you’ve been amassing all these years, and format it in a visually appealing way. Prioritize the activities that are most impressive, that best fit with your narrative, and that you consider the most important. Try to do earlier in the fall so you can share it with to your recommenders.
Remember: in addition to submitting your applications, you’ll also be responsible for releasing your standardized testing record and coordinating the submission of additional materials, such as the recommendations and secondary school report. Try to leave at least 2 weeks before the deadline when submitting scores, as reports can take a few days to process.
Do lots of research on the unique majors and departments offered at each school. Most universities ask on their applications what you intend to study (and you should mention it in your supplement if they require a “Why This University?” essay), and it’s crucial that your choice tie into your overarching narrative. Bonus points if it’s a department or cross-section of studies that are unique to the school—it’ll make your “Why” essay all the more convincing.
It’s your responsibility to ensure that any academic and non-academic recommendations are submitted by the deadline. Be sure to remind your recommenders a few weeks ahead of the deadline and help them advocate on your behalf by providing a detailed resume of your activities and list of your colleges. Also, remember to send thank you notes to your recommenders after they’ve submitted their letters.
If necessary, many students utilize the fall of Senior year to further maximize their potential on the SAT, ACT or Subject Tests. Remember that the October SAT is the last one accepted by Early Decision/Early Action schools. Same for the October ACT—although some colleges ask students to complete the ACT by September. If you have questions, you should get in touch with the individual colleges on your list.
If you’re submitting an artistic portfolio, be sure to plan ahead. Many programs will want to see a variety of artistic samples—and may ask for written artistic statements—so be sure to leave plenty of time before the deadlines to best showcase your work. Note that some colleges will require your entire application by an earlier deadline (sometimes in October) if you want your art portfolio to be considered along with it.
Senior year grades matter—so now is not the time to allow “Senioritis” to kick in. It’s important to continue challenging yourself academically Senior year, and to maintain your GPA. Early Decision schools require first quarter grades, and all Regular Decision applicants will be asked to submit Midyear Reports—so remember that your grades really matter. Sometimes a student will be deferred in the Early round because admissions officers want to see strong first semester grades, and if you’re waitlisted, they’ll be looking at your second semester performance as well.
Every school varies in its policies on alumni interviewing as an application supplement. Some universities don’t offer interviews at all, while others are by invitation only. Some are done by alumni, others are done by current students. However, many schools do offer applicants the option of signing up for an interview, so if you think this will be additive to your application, be sure to seize this opportunity. Registration deadlines are often in advance of the actual application deadlines, so be sure to check early on so you don’t miss your window of opportunity!
After you press “submit,” the work isn’t yet done. It’s incumbent upon the applicant to ensure that every college has received all required materials. Be sure to set up a portal at each school and follow up, if necessary, to ensure that your applications are complete. Check your inbox (and spam) folders regularly for updates from admissions officers or requests for missing materials.
Keep working on your Regular Decision applications while you wait to hear from your Early schools in mid-December - trust us, you don't want to leave the heavy lifting until the last minute.