Early decision checklist


Here’s What to Do Before Submitting Your Early Decision or Early Action Application

Early application deadlines are a little over two weeks away, and seniors applying early decision or early action to their top-choice colleges are in the homestretch.

There are many benefits to applying in the early round, however, it’s essential to make sure everything is in order before submitting your application. This can be a stressful time of year because of the limited window that students have to complete and submit all of their application materials, but by staying organized, students can alleviate some of the pressure.

Different colleges have different application material requirements, so make sure to check online to see what materials you need to submit, and stay in touch with your admissions representative should you have any questions about any of the application materials.

Keep an organized checklist of required and suggested materials so you can stay on track and avoid scrambling for last-minute letters or score reports the day before your application is due.

Here’s what needs to be completed before submitting your early application:

  • Make sure your transcript has been sent directly from your school. Counselors or advisors can typically do this electronically, however, if they’re unable to do that, make sure you have an official, sealed copy to mail.
  • Have your counselors and other teachers submitted their recommendation letters? If they submitted online, check the status in your Common Application. If they submitted through the mail, follow up and politely ask if they have mailed it yet.
  • Double check that your SAT, SAT Subject Test, ACT, AP, IB, etc. scores have been released to the school you’re applying to. For many schools it’s not enough to have it on your transcript – make sure they’ve been sent the official score report.
  • Go over all the contact, family, academic, and general info in your Common Application. Is it correct?
  • Look at your activities list. Did you list your activities in order of importance and provide detailed information about how many hours per week or month you participated? Take off any one-off activities or those that you didn’t spend much time on.
  • Have a parent, teacher, or counselor read over your application essays one last time, checking for spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.

Again, different colleges have different application requirements, so check and double check that you have all application materials necessary in order to be considered for admission.

Be mindful of deadlines, and take advantage of any application resources available.

Remember, an incomplete application will send you directly to the “no” pile – so don’t take any chances! Dot your I’s, cross your T’s, and be ready for submission long before the early application deadline.


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