Checklist For Early Action and Early Decision Applications

An alarm clock - something to add to your checklist for early action or early decision applications

Flickr user Marco Verch

Are you prepared to hand in your early applications? There are a few things you should complete before turning it in. Here’s a checklist for Early Action and Early Decision applications to help you get started.

Know the Due Date for Each of Your Applications

Early Decision applications are binding, meaning you can only apply to one school. Early Action applications are nonbinding but it let’s a school know you’re very interested. So you may have more than one application due date to pay attention to.

It’s important to know the due date of each school you’re applying to. However, you don’t want to wait until last minute to turn in your applications. You’ll want to give yourself some buffer space in case something goes wrong or you need a bit more time than you realized.

Complete the Applications

The most obvious part of the college application is the “application” itself. This is where you put your name, address, school information, list your extracurriculars, and more.

Include Your High School Transcripts

Your college absolutely wants to see your official high school transcripts, so make sure you ask for that from your school. You may have to talk to your high school guidance counselor.

Gather Your Letters of Recommendation

Once you know how many letters of recommendation you need, start asking your teachers and mentors to write them. Ask them as soon as possible so you’re giving them plenty of time to complete it. You may also want to tell them an earlier due date than you need to give yourself extra time in case they forget to write them.

Make sure to also ask for enough copies and then some. You will want enough for all your applications and then a few extras in case you have to apply under regular decision.

Complete the ACT or SAT

You may have to complete the ACT or SAT a bit earlier than planned to meet the Early Action or Early Decision deadlines. Make sure you’re prepared to sit for the exam.

Complete FAFSA and CSS / Financial Aid Profile

You’ll absolutely want to complete FAFSA when it opens in October. You don’t have to complete it right away but it’s a good idea to get it out of the way. Finishing it now gives you plenty of time to get all the information you need from your parents and tax accountant.

You may also want to or be required to complete the CSS Financial Aid Profile for some colleges you’re applying to.

Write the Essay or Other Content Required

Many college applications will require you to write an essay. Brainstorm, stick within the guidelines, and then have someone else review and critique your work.

It’s good to remember every application is different. This is a good checklist for Early Action and Early Decision applications. When getting started, carefully write down everything you’ll need to complete yours for your school of choice. Before sending in your final copy, triple check that you have all that you need to submit it!

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Hilary Cairns

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