It’s September again — and that means that application season is upon us! And it’s already overwhelming, we know. So I thought that I would make a little spreadsheet for you that will help you keep track of all of the materials you’ll be needing until your applications are due at the end of December (at least for the Common App):
The application itself! While it may not seem worth mentioning, this is a little more complicated than you think. Many colleges use the Common Application, so it’s easy to think that that’s all you’ll need… when this might not be true. Some schools — like those in the UC system, for one — use their own application. Pay attention to this! Fill this out with time and care, as this is the framework for all that the college will know about you.
Your transcript! This should be fairly straightforward if you attend an American school, but even if you do, make sure that your college counselor is on top of things. If you do not go to an American school, this is particularly important — make sure to obtain an official transcript from your school far in advance, and make sure to figure out who your “college counselor” is, i.e. who will be submitting it for you.
Two (but hopefully three) letters of rec! Your letters of recommendation are the admissions committee’s view into your soul, so get people who can speak to it. Ask far in advance, and, again, make sure they’re staying on top of things. Get two teachers from two different subject areas (so getting a math and a chemistry teacher is a no-no), as well as an optional (but highly recommended) third recommender who is not a teacher, but still involved in your life (e.g. a coach or religious leader).
ESSAYS! Not everyone likes writing — but nearly everyone needs to submit essays. These, too, are a window into your soul — that you create. Spend time and effort crafting them, and remember that there is a general Common App essay, in addition to individual ones for the schools that you apply to.
List of extracurriculars/achievements/awards! When I was in high school, I found it helpful to keep a running list of these things, so that I wouldn’t lose track. Start working on this (within your applications) early, as you may remember things that you’ve done over time.
SAT/ACT scores! Be sure to input these and have the official ones sent wherever you are applying.
SAT II/AP scores! Some schools require SAT II scores, so be absolutely sure that these have been input and sent — try to make them from different subject areas (I did Hebrew, French, Literature, and Math I). AP scores are generally not required, but also make sure that you’ve had these sent to schools.
Print this out and keep it by your computer so you don’t forget. We wish you the smoothest, calmest application season ever!