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All New Applicants- The Process and Timeline

anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
edited November 2013 in India
I am posting a compilation of all that I have read so far and I hope it will help all new applicants. This is not my work but a collection of all the relevant information. I noticed a lot of people on the India forum are lost when they start the process. So this is to facilitate you all. And I quote,

""The application timeline will help you plan out your 18 months leading up to studying in the USA.

18 months before U.S. study

• Research various colleges and universities programs
• Register and prepare for required entrance exams

12-14 months before U.S. study

• Choose the schools to which you will apply
• Obtain all necessary information and forms for each school
• Take required entrance exams

10-12 months before U.S. study

• Request any forms and information again, if necessary
• Identify your references and supply them with required reference forms
• Request transcripts from your school/s
• Write your application essay (also called a “personal statement”)
• Retake entrance exams if scores were unsatisfactory

10 months before U.S. study

• Complete and mail applications
• Electronic Applications: An Additional Note

3 months before U.S. study

• Apply for your student visa
• Research health insurance options for your time abroad
• Make travel arrangements for when you arrive in the U.S.""
edited November 2013
115 replies
Post edited by anialways on
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Replies to: All New Applicants- The Process and Timeline

  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    ""'International students often underestimate the amount of time required to apply for admission to a college or university in the United States. Avoid this mistake by setting a schedule for yourself that starts well in advance of the time that you plan to begin your studies. When setting your timetable, always remember that doing things early is the best way forward. You need to allow yourself sufficient time to thoroughly research the institution and/or program that will best serve your academic and professional goals. Then you must meet the application deadlines of the universities to which you apply, which may be as much as 10 months before the beginning of the school term.

    The need for an early start holds true even if you are able to access electronic applications on the Internet. University Web sites and other academic Internet sites may provide quick and convenient access to the required application forms, but you still need time to research your options, contact teachers and institutions to provide recommendations and transcripts, and sign up for required entrance exams in time to meet application deadlines."""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """"""Helping your students build their college lists

    In this climate of competitive admission, students need your help finalizing their lists of colleges they plan to apply to. How many colleges should a student's list contain? And how should a student decide which colleges to include?

    There is no magic number, but five to eight applications are usually enough to ensure that a student is accepted into a suitable institution (depending, of course, on the individual student's record and circumstances). This number should be made up of a combination of “safety,” “probable” and “reach” colleges.

    More than numbers

    Even if a student has a suitable number of colleges on a list, there is no guarantee that it contains the best colleges for that student. So you need to ask,

    Has the student really researched each college (online or by visiting the campus)?

    Does the college have the courses and programs the student wants to study?

    What are the student's financial needs?

    Is each college really a good match, considering the student's academic and social needs and interests?

    Narrowing the list

    By the end of junior year, students should have five to 10 colleges under consideration. This allows for some flexibility in choice of major, career plans and potential financial aid or scholarship options.

    "Safety" colleges
    Institutions with flexible admission standards are often treated as "safety" colleges. This term refers to colleges whose requirements mean little chance of rejection for that applicant. Most students apply to just one safety, but a student may opt for an academic safety and a financial safety.

    "Probable" colleges
    A "probable" college is one that the student feels will fulfill needs and desires; one the student could happily attend, even though it may not be the first choice. The student should fit the general admission criteria in academic and social arenas. A good rule of thumb is to have two to four probable colleges under consideration.

    "Reach" colleges
    These are the top choices, but ones that are less likely to accept the student. This may be because the student's qualifications match or fall slightly short of the college's average, and the competition for the limited places in the freshman class is intense. Students should have one or two colleges in this category."""""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """"""Factors in admission decisions
    When considering the importance of class rank, it is helpful to look at some of the differences in the ways public and private colleges evaluate other aspects of student applications.

    Selective private colleges tend to place more emphasis on personal statements and essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, leadership experience and the individual talents of applicants.

    The bigger the college, the less emphasis it places on extracurricular activities, even though a student who juggles a full course load with part-time work or a major outside commitment is demonstrating the management and prioritizing skills that will be essential in college. (For this type of student, a well-crafted essay can be a good place to point out strengths or track record in this regard.)

    At large and small colleges alike, a student's grades in college-preparatory courses continue to be the most significant factor in the admission decision, followed by scores on standardized admission tests and grades in all courses. For more information on admission decisions, see Admission Decisions: What Counts.

    Whether or not your school district promotes the class-ranking system, you and your colleagues must find a way to make colleges aware of your students' achievements and future potential. You can do this by providing colleges with contextual information, such as the:

    Student's GPA

    Activities student was involved in

    High school curriculum

    Range and median of student GPAs

    Range and median of SAT and ACT scores

    Results of AP Exams

    Grade distribution of the class (the percentage of the class receiving As, etc.)

    Student portfolios (with writing or project samples)

    Personal recommendations from teachers or counselors describing specific attributes, behaviors, skills and achievements

    Listing of colleges and universities that accepted students from the previous year

    Most colleges say that they're looking at a number of different elements in the admission process. Giving them plenty of detail about your school will help them be selective in making admission decisions.""""""""
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  • babanraobabanrao 17 replies16 threads Junior Member
    anialways thanks for posting this
    But the sites of universities and other relevant org. dont provide all the minute details to students who are doing the processing all by themselves. I am one of them. Something like a comprehensive guide for indian or international students would be helpful.
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """""""College Application Essay

    Why it's important and how you can help

    Your students’ college essay is their opportunity to reveal their best qualities and to show an admission committee what makes them stand out from other applicants. Work with your students to help them with this important piece of their application.

    How important is the essay?
    The National Association for College Admission Counseling’s 2011 State of College Admission report found that while grades, strength of curriculum and admission test scores are the top factors in the college admission decision, a majority of colleges and universities believe the essay to be of considerable or moderate importance in determining which academically qualified students they would choose.

    In other words, when all else is equal between competing applicants, a compelling essay can make the difference. A powerful, well-written essay can also tip the balance for a marginal applicant.

    What are colleges looking for in an essay?
    College admission officers look to the essay for evidence that a student can write well and support ideas with logical arguments. They also want to know something about the personality of the student.

    Sarah Myers McGinty, author of The College Application Essay, shares the following tip for both counselors and students: "If you get a chance, ask college representatives about the role of the essay at their colleges. At some colleges the essay is used to determine fit, and at others it may be used to assure the college that the student can do the work. At any rate, find out from the rep how essays are weighted and used in the admissions process."

    What are the different types of essays?
    There are typically three types of essay questions: the "you" question, the "why us" question and the "creative" question.

    The "you" question

    This question boils down to "Tell us about yourself." The college wants to know students better and see how students introduce themselves. This type of direct question offers students a chance to reveal something about themselves other than grades and test scores.

    The "why us" question

    Some institutions ask for an essay about a student's choice of a college or career. They're looking for information about the applicant's goals, and about how serious the student’s commitment is to this particular college. This type of question provides a focus for the essay; that is, why the student chose this particular college or path — and the answer to that will (hopefully) be clear.

    The "creative" question

    The goals of the "creative" question are to evaluate a candidate's ability to think and write creatively and to assess the breadth of the student’s knowledge and education. This kind of question gives students an opportunity to convey their personalities and views.'''''
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    Recommendations LORs

    ""Colleges need help deciding if a student has the character and ability to function successfully at their institution. A strong teacher recommendation can bring a student to life for the admission committee and may be the decisive factor for students with weaker grades or test scores.

    They are intended primarily to convey the teacher's classroom experience with the student — to give colleges an idea of how the student is likely to perform academically. These recommendations serve a different function than the counselor recommendation, which is meant to provide a broader view of the student.

    The value of counselor recommendations

    When all else is equal between two applicants, a recommendation from Counsellor can pull a lot of weight. And for students with mediocre or low scores on college admission tests, their honest assessment of their potential success in college can tip the scales in their favor.

    The more history your school has with a college, the more important your recommendation letters become. In sorting through candidates from your school, colleges rely on your candor to help the admission staff make accurate and fair assessments of applicants.""""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """"""Application Anxiety

    After application deadlines pass, seniors may worry that their applications or supporting documents have gone missing or never arrived at colleges. Some students may be panicking because a college has notified them that elements are missing from their application.

    With students' applications, test scores, transcripts and other information arriving at colleges at different times and in different envelopes (or online), how can one help students prevent, minimize or solve any "missing document" problems?

    Reminders to give your students

    Keep copies of all components of the application that they're responsible for (for example, the essay and the main body of the application).

    Print out hard copies of online applications, if possible.

    Save any postal or electronic proofs of mailing and receipt (for example, a confirmation email or an assigned tracking number — print out a hard copy, too).

    Use the Postal Service's Delivery Confirmation service for each application they send through the mail. This service gives the time and date of delivery, but does not require a signature at the receiving end (admission offices may not have the time to sign for every piece of mail).

    Inform you and those writing their recommendations when and where they have applied online.

    Remind anyone who is writing a recommendation to keep a copy of the letter.

    Prepare to be patient. Processing applications takes time; students may not get any news for several weeks.

    Tips for counselors

    Keep copies of all parts of students' applications that pass through your hands, all electronic and postal proofs of receipt and notifications, and all letters of recommendation that you write.

    Record the dates that components that you're responsible for (for example, transcripts) were mailed.

    Ask admission representatives questions to clarify the specifics of application processing at their colleges.""""""""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """""""ED and EA

    Early decision (ED) and early action (EA) plans can be beneficial to students — but only to those who have thought through their college options carefully and have a clear preference for one institution.

    Early decision versus early action

    Early decision plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Early action plans are nonbinding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1. Counselors need to make sure that students understand this key distinction between the two plans.

    Approximately 450 colleges have early decision or early action plans, and some have both. Some colleges offer a nonbinding option called single-choice early action, under which applicants may not apply ED or EA to any other college.

    ED plans have come under fire as unfair to students from families with low incomes, since they do not have the opportunity to compare financial aid offers. This may give an unfair advantage to applicants from families who have more financial resources.

    ED applicants

    Apply early (usually in November) to first-choice college.

    Receive an admission decision from the college well in advance of the usual notification date (usually by December).

    Agree to attend the college if accepted and offered a financial aid package that is considered adequate by the family.

    Apply to only one college early decision.

    Apply to other colleges under regular admission plans.

    Withdraw all other applications if accepted by ED.

    Send a nonrefundable deposit well in advance of May 1.

    EA applicants

    Apply early.

    Receive an admission decision early in the admission cycle (usually in January or February).

    Consider acceptance offer; do not have to commit upon receipt.

    Apply to other colleges under regular admission plans.

    Give the college a decision no later than the May 1 national response date.

    Who should apply early?

    Applying to an ED or EA plan is most appropriate for a student who:

    Has researched colleges extensively.

    Is absolutely sure that the college is the first choice.

    Has found a college that is a strong match academically, socially and geographically.

    Meets or exceeds the admission profile for the college for SAT® scores, GPA and class rank.

    Has an academic record that has been consistently solid over time."""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """"""Choosing USA for College-Why

    In the 2009/2010 academic year the number of international students in the USA rose by 3% to an all-time high of 690,923. They choose the Unites States as the place they wanted to broaden their experience and continue their education, making the U.S. the top choice over any other country in the world. But why do so many international students choose U.S. colleges and universities? Before you pack your bags, you should learn what the U.S. has to offer you

    • Academic Excellence
    • Variety of Educational Opportunities
    • Cutting-Edge Technology
    • Opportunity for Research
    • Flexibility
    • Support Services for International Students
    • Global Education and Long-Term Career Prospects
    • Campus Life Experience"""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member

    What kind of specific help are you looking for?
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  • babanraobabanrao 17 replies16 threads Junior Member

    This application process is like a whole new subject and i have studied it for just a few months. I mean without anybody to counsel you its like learning a whole new language by oneself. I dont have any specific problems right now because i still have some sat test to appear. Then i have fill the common application. Is there anyway i can contact you other than posting a new thread? Because i will need some help in the admission process after i finish the tests, and also, there wont be a long time to complete the process after december. Its like asking a free advice, which otherwise would cost several lakhs in consultancies.
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """"How should I fill out the Common Application 'Activities' section?

    Pay attention to the directions for this section: “Please list your principal extracurricular, volunteer, and work activities in their order of importance to you.” It's important to make sure your activities really are listed in order of importance to you. The first activity you list should be the one you’d pick if you were only allowed to list one activity.

    “Principal activities” mean activities that were important to you. And they don't necessarily have to be formal activities. It's OK to list a hobby that's important to you, too. So if you played JV badminton freshman year and never played again, it obviously didn't mean enough to keep playing. Why take up the space with it here? But if you write a blog, or host a book club, or knit sweaters, and it's something you really enjoy and spend a lot of time doing, it’s OK to list that here.

    Don’t try to list everything you’ve ever done. It’s OK to have blank spaces. Our sample student above only listed three activities. But they were the three activities that defined her high school experience. The reader gets what was important to her. She doesn't need her to list anything else.

    Don’t attach a resume. The directions in this section (“…even if you plan to attach a resume”) make it sound like that’s something the colleges invite. They don’t. In fact, most colleges hate resumes. They’re too long, they come in too many different formats, and they ignore the activity section of the college’s application. Unless a college specifically instructs you to do a resume, we tell our students not to do one. """"""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member

    You can post your query here or send me a PM and I will try my best to help you out. Don't worry the whole thing looks huge and complicated but if you break it up and follow a timeline it is not so overwhelming.
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """"""""College Applications: How to Begin

    1. Get Informed

    Colleges want to know the real you. When you apply to colleges, you don’t have to try to make yourself look better by listing the kinds of accomplishments or writing the kind of essay you think they want to see. If you’re honest about who you are and what you’ve done, you’re more likely to end up at a college that’s a good fit for you.

    2. Talk to People

    Tell your family, your school counselor, your teachers and anyone else you’re close to that you’re applying to colleges. Talking about what you want for the future — and the ways college will help you get there — is a great warm-up for college application

    3. Brainstorm

    Most applications ask you to describe what you’ve done in and out of the classroom. Start thinking about your activities, honors and awards, and make a list of those that mean the most to you. You can also write down some notes on your favorite classes and the reasons you like them.

    4. Get Organized

    If you can keep track of everything you need, you’ll be ahead of the game. For each college you’re applying to:

    Create a real and a virtual folder for storing documents.
    Print a checklist to track your progress on each part of the application.""""""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    ""The Real Role of Tests in Your College Application

    Most four-year colleges consider applicants’ scores on college admission tests when deciding whom to accept. Test scores are just one part of your college application. College admission officers give the most weight and importance to your high school grades and whether you’re challenging yourself.

    How Do Colleges Use Test Scores?

    Admission tests apply a common standard to everyone. This helps colleges evaluate and compare the preparation of students who go to different high schools. All schools do not offer the same academic programs, learning environments or even expectations. Colleges look at your test scores, along with your high school grades and courses, to see how well prepared you are for college-level work.

    What Else Do Colleges Consider?

    College admission officers try to get a complete picture of who you are, what you’ll bring to their campus and how you might do on their campus. They look at many parts of your application besides your test scores, such as your:

    High school grades

    High school courses

    Extracurricular activities

    Recommendation letters

    Application essays

    In fact, these other elements — especially your grades and the classes you've taken — are usually the most important factors, even more important than your test scores. Colleges want to see if you’ve challenged yourself and built a strong academic foundation."""""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """""""""Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

    Top two tips: Be yourself and start early

    Choose a Topic That Will Highlight You

    Don’t focus on the great aspects of a particular college, the amount of dedication it takes to be a doctor or the number of extracurricular activities you took part in during high school.

    Do share your personal story and thoughts, take a creative approach and highlight areas that aren’t covered in other parts of the application, like your high school records.

    Keep Your Focus Narrow and Personal

    Don’t try to cover too many topics. This will make the essay sound like a r
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I am also going to say that I read much more than I can ever post here. So whether you are a student, Parent or a Counsellor, you need to research, a lot. And the High School years are very hectic and challenging, therefore, it is very importanr that an elder is involved in the research as it is very time consuming.

    Also the role of Parents and involvement makes sense as they will be financing the education and so should be well informed as to where their money is going. And I am not saying they choose, just that they can provide a sounding board for brainstorming and sorting out confusion and choices. Students can and should, if they are too independent, do on their own.

    Trust me, my D made her own College list, wrote her essays, filled the Commonapp, organised and kept tab of her timeline, but because we as parents had done our homework, we were confident of her choices, in terms of fit, tuition, program, location, her ability to cope and adjust and at the same time aware of the challenges ahead. Made the whole journey for our family an adventure rather than a journey in to the unknown.

    And that is the reason, long after my D has sort of settled in, I continue to visit CC and try to share my experience with others. I know how complicated it was when we began and how things got sorted out and like pieces of puzzle everything will work out fine for all of you.
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    ""The Qualities Colleges Want

    “What is it that makes you unique, and how will you contribute to the life of our campus?” That’s what admission officers want to know. To gauge what students can bring to their campus, they look for these types of qualities:


    A willingness to take risks


    A sense of social responsibility

    A commitment to service

    Special talents or abilities

    Overall, colleges want a mix of students to create a rich campus community.

    Your Application Shows Your Qualities

    So how do you show colleges what’s special about you? Personal qualities are not easy to measure, but admission officers look at the items listed below for clues to an applicant's character.

    Extracurricular activities: What you do outside the classroom reveals a lot about you. That’s why some applications ask for details about extracurricular activities. But remember, it’s not the number of activities that’s important. Admission officers want to know what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from participating in these activities.

    Summer jobs and activities: Your summer experiences provide insight into your character. And holding a summer job at a fast-food restaurant can build as much character as attending a prestigious summer learning program. It's all about what you’ve gained, what you’ve learned and how you communicate that.

    College essay: The college essay gives you the opportunity to show the admission officers who you are and how you will contribute to the college campus.

    When admission officers read student essays, they ask themselves, “Would you like this person to be your roommate? Would you like to work on a group project with this person?” The essay can reveal the answers to these questions more than any test score can.

    Letters of recommendation: Recommendation letters can tell a lot about the kind of person you are. A teacher who knows you well can give insight into not just your academic strengths but also the qualities you display in class, such as leadership or fairness.""""""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation

    Colleges often ask for two or three recommendation letters from people who know you well. These letters should be written by someone who can describe your skills, accomplishments and personality.

    Colleges value recommendations because they:

    Reveal things about you that grades and test scores can’t

    Provide personal opinions of your character

    Show who is willing to speak on your behalf

    Letters of recommendation work for you when they present you in the best possible light, showcasing your skills and abilities.

    When to Ask for Recommendations

    Make sure to give your references at least one month before your earliest deadline to complete and send your letters. The earlier you ask, the better. Many teachers like to write recommendations during the summer. If you apply under early decision or early action plans, you'll definitely need to ask for recommendations by the start of your senior year or before.

    Remember that some teachers will be writing whole stacks of letters, which takes time. Your teachers will do a better job on your letter if they don’t have to rush.

    Whom to Ask

    It’s your job to find people to write letters of recommendation for you. Follow these steps to start the process:

    Read each of your college applications carefully. Schools often ask for letters of recommendation from an academic teacher — sometimes in a specific subject — or a school counselor or both.

    Ask a counselor, teachers and your family who they think would make good references.
    Choose one of your teachers from junior year or a current teacher who has known you for a while. Colleges want a current perspective on you, so a teacher from several years ago isn't the best choice.

    Consider asking a teacher who also knows you outside the classroom. For example, a teacher who directed you in a play or advised your debate club can make a great reference.

    Consider other adults — such as an employer, a coach or an adviser from an activity outside of school — who have a good understanding of you and your strengths.
    Perhaps most important, pick someone who will be enthusiastic about writing the letter for you.

    If you’re unsure about asking someone in particular, politely ask if he or she feels comfortable recommending you. That’s a good way to avoid weak letters.

    How to Get the Best Recommendations

    Some teachers write many recommendation letters each year. Even if they know you well, it’s a good idea to take some time to speak with them. Make it easy for them to give positive, detailed information about your achievements and your potential by refreshing their memory.

    Here’s how:

    Talk to them about your class participation.

    Remind them of specific work or projects you’re proud of.

    Tell them what you learned in class.

    Mention any challenges you overcame.

    Give them the information they need to provide specific examples of your work.

    If you need a recommendation letter from a counselor or other school official, follow these guidelines:

    Make an appointment ahead of time.

    Talk about your accomplishments, hobbies and plans for college and the future.
    If you need to discuss part of your transcript — low grades during your sophomore year, for example — do so. Explain why you had difficulty and discuss how you've changed and improved since then.

    Whether approaching teachers, a counselor or another reference, you may want to provide them with a resume that briefly outlines your activities, both in and outside the classroom, and your goals.

    Final Tips

    The following advice is easy to follow and can really pay off:

    Waive your right to view recommendation letters on your application forms. Admission officers will trust them more if you haven’t seen them.

    Give your references addressed and stamped envelopes for each college that requested a recommendation.

    Make sure your references know the deadlines for each college.

    Follow up with your references a week or so before recommendations are due to make sure your letters have been sent.

    Once you’ve decided which college to attend, write thank-you notes. Tell your references where you’re going and let them know how much you appreciate their support.""""""""""""""
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  • anialwaysanialways 1193 replies17 threads Senior Member
    """"""Tips for Preparing Your College Application

    Correctly submitting all the different pieces of your college application is like a test — one you can easily pass. While the process may seem complicated, a little organization and attention go a long way.

    You can apply to colleges online or through the mail. Online applications can be processed quickly and may have built-in checks to ensure all materials are included. Mailed applications are easier to proofread. Either way, following this advice will set you up to succeed.

    Start early.

    Set deadlines for completing essays, collecting recommendations and filling out forms a few weeks before they’re actually required. Mark these earlier deadlines on your calendar and don’t miss them. College websites are the best place to find accurate deadline information.

    Be consistent.

    Using the exact same name on all your forms makes things easier for admission officers. Decide if you want to use a shortened version of your legal name or your middle name, and then always use the same version. Switching names — going from Bill to Billy, for example — increases the odds that your materials will get misfiled.

    Be careful.

    Careless mistakes on your application can hurt your chances of getting accepted. After you finish an application, put it aside for a day and then check it over for errors. If you can, have a teacher or parent proofread it as well. Save and review online applications before you submit them.

    Alert your school.

    You need to let school officials know which colleges you’re applying to so they can send along your transcripts. The people you ask to write recommendation letters also need to know where you’re applying if they’re mailing the letters themselves.

    Completing the Package

    Once you’ve completed your application, follow these tips to make sure all the parts get where they’re going.

    Don’t wait.

    Anything that needs to be mailed, including your application itself, should be sent in several weeks before it is due. This allows time for delivery and processing. Online materials should be sent weeks before the deadline as well.

    Submit once.

    When you apply online, you’ll usually get an automated response saying your materials have been received. If you don’t, contact the college’s admission office. Don’t apply online again or mail in another application.

    Keep copies.

    Make a copy of each piece of each application. Save personal identification numbers, passwords, canceled checks and notes or emails from admission officers. This documentation can save you if a problem arises.

    Get confirmation.

    If you mail applications, put a stamped postcard addressed to your house in each package so admission officers can let you know that your materials arrived. The Post Office also offers a similar “return receipt” service. It may take a few weeks for confirmation cards to reach you.

    If you get a notice saying something is missing, don’t panic. Just call the admission office and calmly ask what steps you can take. This is why you wisely saved copies of everything and sent in your application early!"""""""""

    """College Application Checklist- Use this....

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