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Your Back to School Application Checklist

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notebook_pencilSo this is it. Senior year has arrived, and now you are officially staring at the business end of what feels like it could be the most important year of your life. So much is going to happen this year – and you have so much to do! It suddenly seems like lists are popping up everywhere: back to school shopping list, senior year bucket list, class list, motivational Beyoncé playlist, college list, crucial 90s teen movies to binge watch list, supplemental essay list… the list of lists goes on. And while all of these tasks and goals to pile up, it may start to feel like you’ll never get anything done. But we happen to know that you can do it, and to prove it, we made you a quickie checklist of simple but critical tasks you can (and should) check off your college application to-do list during the first few weeks of school. Do these three things to keep your application moving and prove to yourself that this gigantic process can be done in baby steps.

1. Lock in your recommendations.

The start of the school year is a momentous time for everyone including your teachers and guidance counselors. So ask teachers for recommendations early: you’ll do them the courtesy of giving them lots of time to write, plus if you beat the rush, you’ll also probably end up with more thoughtful and detailed letters. If you haven’t quite decided who to ask yet, consider the application materials you have already compiled, especially your Common App or Coalition personal statement. Just like the personal statement, your recommendations are an opportunity for you to reveal something new to admissions. Ask yourself: Which teachers can expand on and support what I have already included on my application? Which teachers might be able to say something completely new? And of course, who knows me best and has seen me grow?

2. Meet with your guidance counselor.

The most important person in your life this year is your guidance counselor. (Aside from your grandma! And Greyson the cat!) But depending on the size of your school, you may be one of a dozen (or several dozen) VIPs your counselor has to guide through the grueling admissions process. So, again, the key to starting the year off on the right foot is to make an appointment early. Check in, review any essay drafts you have, finalize your school list and your recommendation choices; you’ll find that meeting with your guidance counselor early in the year will unlock many other doors that will help you keep moving forward with your process.

3. Polish up your activity resume.

Now that the school year is officially underway, you should have a better sense of what your extracurricular activities are like. Which sports teams will you be playing on? Which publications and clubs will you be contributing to? What new leadership roles will you be stepping into? What additional projects or responsibilities have you taken on? Add those last few lines to your activity resume (and don’t forget to update your Common App and Coalition profiles too!). This is one piece of the application puzzle that you can wrap up for good – and just like that, you’re on your way.

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