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The Ultimate College Application Guide 2.0


How to Apply for College: A Downloadable Checklist

There’s a lot you’ll need to do before you send off your college applications. What if you forget an important requirement and don't get into your dream school? Here’s a checklist of the major things you’ll need to tick off before you send in applications to the schools on your list.

First of all, what goes into a college application?

College admissions departments usually require the following elements in an application: 

Your Transcripts

High school transcripts list all the classes you took, grades you received, and any other information that’s relevant to your academic career. Ask your counselor to print official copies. Depending on your school’s policy, your counselor may mail these to the schools you’re applying to, or give them to you to send off yourself.

Your Personal Statement

Most schools require an essay or personal statement so they can learn more about you. This is one thing you definitely don’t want to forget as you’re gathering your documents.

Test Scores

If you didn’t have your SAT or ACT scores mailed directly to all of your top-choice schools when you took the tests, have these sent to any remaining colleges. These are typically mandatory for most applications.

AP Scores

Advanced placement classes make any candidate even more appealing. If you’ve taken even one AP test, get the scores sent to the colleges on your list. Advanced placement classes show your determination and initiative to learn.

Recommendation Letters

Many colleges request letters of recommendation. Give people time to write glowing reviews by asking them now, rather than a week before the deadline. This way, you can have the best possible chance to get in, because your teachers and leaders will happily write great reviews, instead of being rushed to write an average review.

How to get started

There’s something cathartic about getting stuff together in an orderly fashion. Somewhere in the middle it gets kind of frustrating, but the end is so satisfying. Before you even put together a checklist that you can cross off, though, you need to get organized. 

Because, really, what all do you need? 

  1. List all of the institutions you want to apply to (a total of at least 7 colleges is the goal)
  • Safety (2 Institutions)
  • Target (3 Institutions)
  • Reach (2 Institutions)
  1. Are you still trying to discover which schools are right for you? Log into Cappex to find your perfect college matches. These schools should ideally have what you're looking for -- the right price, size, and majors. 

Plot out not just when each application is due on a calendar, but what is due. Is there a supplement about why you want to attend the College X or do you need to write a letter to your future roommate?  Are there any supplements that you’ve already completed that you can repurpose for future supplements?

  1. Request documents from your school and your recommenders. 
  2. Start writing.

From this point, you can easily figure out how much work you need to do, or is left to be done. If you can dedicate an hour or two every day to chip away at your remaining supplements, you’ll be in great shape! 

Want a more step-by-step breakdown? Use our admissions timeline checklist to make sure you never miss a deadline.


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