The November Checklist for Students Applying to College


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The plot is wrapping up when it comes to the college application season, which means that there are (hopefully) only a few things left to check off your to-do list. Now is a good time to take a step back and look over the work you’ve done to get here. Have you completed our other two checklists from September and October? How do you feel about your college application essay? If everything looks perfect enough to tie a bow on and ship out to your dream school, give yourself a high five. If you still have some things to catch up on, treat yourself to a cappuccino and get to work!

  • Catch up on your applications if you’ve fallen behind.

    It is best to send in your supporting documents well before the deadline, but it’s not too late. Catch up on what you might have missed. If you haven’t sent your standardized test scores or transcripts to your prospective colleges yet, now is the time. These items may take some time to be processed, and you don’t want to miss any deadlines because of the delay. The same goes for your recommendation letters, so follow up with your teachers. Do everything in your power to make sure your supporting documents arrive before the deadline.

    A person in a Haz-Mat suit frantically pushing buttons on a console.

    Push All The Buttons / Hilarious Gifs

  • Press submit if you are applying early action or early decision.

    If the answer is yes, be conscious of the looming deadlines. Your application, including the personal essay, high school transcript, test scores, letter of recommendation, and possibly a portfolio, must be submitted as soon as today. Typically, ED and EA deadlines are either November 1 or 15.

  • Finalize your admissions essays.

    It’s time to pick two trusted friends, teachers, or relatives to look over your essay (and your short answer responses!). Ask them if your response clearly answers the prompt while also describing who you are and what you have to offer. Consider their feedback and make changes as you see fit. Touch up your grammar and tweak some of those less-than-perfect sentences. Be sure to maintain your unique voice while editing. Also, consider passing the final piece along to someone who has not seen it yet, just in case you’ve overlooked something.

  • Take IB exams.

    The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is offered by 893 high schools. Students at participating schools can choose to enroll in the two-year program or simply take one of the courses. If you choose to be involved, though, you’ll need to pass the IB exam in order to receive credits. Many of these tests take place during November. If you do well on the exams, your future college might accept your credits, and as an additional reward, you might be invited to skip certain classes that your peers have to take.

  • Bert looks up from reading a book while Ernie laughs.

    Sesame Street / Giphy

    Fill out financial aid documents.

    The FAFSA becomes available every year on October 1, so what are you waiting for? By creating an FSA ID and then filling out the form, you may qualify for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. While you’re at it, take a moment to fill out the CSS Profile. Many colleges use it in addition to the FAFSA to award financial aid to students. Check here to see if any of your schools are participating institutions.

Some other things you can do this month include focusing on keeping your grades up and continuing your usual extracurricular activities. You’re not done quite yet! Stay tuned for the December checklist.

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