When Should You Submit College Applications?

You should submit your applications to your selected colleges when they are complete and before the deadlines – in fact, the earlier the better. Here I am referring to the actual “application” itself – separate from the transcript, recommendation letters and SAT/ACT scores. Further details about timing and deadlines are below.

You Do Not Need to Wait for Your Transcript, Recommendations or Test Scores Prior to Submission

• There are generally four pieces of information that a college needs to receive in order for it to consider your application complete:
• The application you have completed and submitted
• Official transcript (which comes from the high school)
• Letters of recommendation (if required by the college) which will either be sent from your high school or you have entered the teachers/guidance counselor’s information within your application and they will be sent separately from your application, electronically
• Test scores, i.e., SAT, ACT, and Subject Tests – if the college requires them

Note that at some colleges if you apply to a specific major there may be additional information required, such as a portfolio or samples of your work. For a complete list of what is required by each college go to that specific college’s website for the details.
Submitting your application to the school is just one piece and will typically start and open your file at the college. Don’t wait to submit your application for the remainder of the pieces to be ready. They are all mutually exclusive in being submitted during the process. Submit the application when you have completed it – making sure you are submitting prior to the deadline.

Know Each College’s Deadline for Each Type of Application

You must keep track of each college’s deadline for each type of application, i.e., early action, early decision, regular decision and rolling admissions. The most common deadlines for early action and early decision are November 1st and November 15th. For regular decision, the deadline is typically January 1st. These dates are not set in stone. You need to note the deadlines for each school to which you are applying.
Create a spreadsheet (or do so in a Word document) with your list of colleges running down the left side and the types of deadlines running across the top (Early Action, Early Decision, Regular Decision – there may be some others as well, such as Rolling Admission and Early Decision 2). Now you need to gather the actual deadlines and enter them into your file. Where do you find these dates? In the Common App, under the My Colleges tab, you can click on the College Information and listed will be each of the selections of how you can apply and their associated deadline. With the Coalition Application, the deadlines will be under the specific college within the section where you respond to each college’s specific questions. Applications may vary on what information they provide but you can always go to the college’s web site and you should be able to find this information there.
Now you will have all of the colleges listed where you are applying to and each of their deadlines for submitting your application. You can continually look at this document for information that will help you be proactive in applying to colleges.

Don’t Wait Until the Deadline to Submit Your Applications

Although it is wise to know what the actual deadline is for submitting applications to your colleges, you should NEVER wait until the deadline to do so. On the contrary, the early bird has the best opportunity to get the worm, if you get my gist. It all goes back to my philosophy, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. And don’t think colleges don’t notice this, they do! Your application will be date and time-stamped when it comes in. Big brother is always watching.

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