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College Application Checklist

Updated: Sep 26, 2022

There’s a joke I tell my students when we are discussing the application process.

How do you eat an elephant? (Don’t worry, it’s a metaphor. Elephants are awesome!)

One bite at a time.

The application process is a whale. It’s massive. Sometimes it might seem like you’ll never get through it. But you can, if you take it one bite at a time.

Taking a good look at your personal strengths and being willing to get help with your weaknesses can make the difference between an acceptance or a rejection. As experienced counselors, helping you find and share your best qualities for colleges to see is what we do. has compiled a nice To Do list for once you’ve built your College List. The challenge is that doing each of these steps is not always easy. If it was easy then applying to college wouldn’t cause any stress and anxiety and everyone would be happy about it and never procrastinate and never have arguments with parents. Take a look at the list and be honest with yourself about which areas you might struggle with in the application process.

1.Know your deadlines.

Start your applications early enough to complete them by the deadlines. Deadlines are usually between January 1 and February 15, although early decision and early action take place in November.

2. Read the instructions.

Most of the mistakes on college applications are the result of not following the instructions. Don't let this happen.

3. Provide all the requested information.

Leaving blank fields or providing incomplete responses makes it look like you weren't paying attention or that it isn’t very important to you. Take care to be thorough.

4. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

And after you're done proofreading, give it to someone else to proofread! Typos on your college application are just sloppy.

5. Be honest.

Admissions staff will verify the info you provide, so keep it on the up and up. Don't exaggerate your accomplishments. Honesty is always the best policy.

6. Choose your recommendations wisely.

Use teachers, counselors, and others who know you well, both inside and outside the classroom. Give them enough time to write thoughtful and considerate recommendations, and be sure to thank them.

6. Make sure your essay represents who you are.

The essay is the only opportunity you have to explain why you are different from other applicants. Be original and make it personal.

7. Request copies of your high school transcript.

Notify your counselor's office of your application deadlines so your transcripts don't arrive late. Do this at least two weeks early to avoid unnecessary stress.

8. Keep copies of everything.

Keep copies of your applications, your essays, any emails you’ve sent, and all other materials that are part of the application process. You never know if something will be lost in transit.

9. Confirm that your application materials arrived.

Contact each of your schools to make sure they have received your application materials. If anything is missing, supply it immediately.

Need help building your college list? Unsure of deadlines? Need essay or personal statement guidance? Letter of recommendation hints? We can help you put together an application that highlights your strengths and will help universities take notice of you.

Our experienced college counselors at Next Level College Application know how to support you to gain momentum and confidence to take this next step of your life. We have helped hundreds of students navigate their college applications and attend universities all over the world.

We take the time to get to know you and your goals. We help design a plan to help you get there. Don’t worry. We’ve got you. Meet with a counselor today and see how we can help you. or email us at

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