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The Early Decision/Early Action Checklist

November 1st is just days away and most selective colleges have either an Early Decision or Early Action deadline this time of year. If you are putting the finishing touches on your application, make sure to do these steps before you hit the "submit" button:

  1. Send all required test scores to the colleges where you plan to apply. Even if you haven't submitted your application yet, send the scores NOW. Sending official scores through the ACT or the College Board (for the SATs and Subject Tests) can sometimes take a few weeks.

  2. Review your application with a fine-tooth comb. Then, have someone you trust review it as well. Typos are sometimes hard to see if you've been working on a document for so long. Having another person review your application can give you peace of mind.

  3. Double check that you have answered all the questions on a college's supplement. You won't be able to submit the application until all short answer questions and essays are completed.

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  4. Communicate with your school counselor. Let them know that you are applying "early" so that they can send your transcript, school report, and letters of recommendation. Also, if your senior year first marking period grades are strong, request that your school counselor send those grades to the colleges where you applied.

  5. Read the interview instructions carefully. In some cases, like MIT, students need to proactively sign up for a chance to interview. Other schools will have an alumni interviewer contact you after you submit your application - check your email account daily to make sure you don't miss this opportunity. If you are applying to a small liberal arts college, you should try to schedule an interview on-campus if you haven't done it already.

  6. It is the student's responsibility to follow up with each college to ensure that they received all of the materials. Give colleges at least a week or two after you submit your application before following up as it takes them time to sort through all of the materials right after the deadline.

For most students, applying Early Decision or Early Action by November 1st is the first application they submit. Once submitted, every application after that gets easier. But applying "early" is a smart move for many students as it can increase a student's chances of admission - especially in Early Decision. Take time to review the application, supplement, and all requirements. Colleges pay close attention to deadlines and students should do the same.