When you are working on college applications, a few basic steps can make the process go more smoothly. Disable your pop-up blockers and read the instructions before starting an application. Don’t wait until the day before the deadline, as you will be more likely to rush and make careless mistakes, and an error on your birth date or social security number could cause problems in processing your application. In addition to increasing the likelihood of making mistakes, waiting until the day before a deadline means possible delays in submitting the application as servers can become overloaded when thousands of students are trying to submit applications at the same time.
Most applications time out for security, so don’t forget to save your work if you are going to take a break from the application. Be sure to use the application’s navigation buttons as you move through it, or you could lose information that has not yet been saved. If you accidentally use your browser’s back button when looking at an application, you could find yourself logged out of the application.
The Common Application has a Preview button that enables you to see how the application will look when printed. Many students are surprised to find that their short answer and activity descriptions are cut off in mid sentence. You may need to rework your answers so that you conform to the word or character limits.
Once you have submitted the Common Application to a college, you cannot change it or resubmit it. But if you are applying to additional Common Application schools, you can create an alternate version of the application. You can edit your answers and preview the new version before submitting the application to other colleges.
Having someone proofread the application can help you catch any mistakes before it goes to a college. Remember that completing the application means submitting the application, any required supplement and payment.
One of the most stressful parts of the post-application period is when students are notified by an admission office that their file is incomplete. Please do not accuse the hard-working counselors or support staff at your high school of not sending your transcript. It can take several weeks for admission offices to add documents to an applicant’s file, and many colleges send these “incomplete file” notifications automatically. The documents are almost always either at the college or on the way.
Many colleges enable students to check the status of an application by logging into their account. Be sure to do that, and also check your e-mail regularly so that you don’t miss any important communication, such as a request to schedule an alumni interview.
Don’t forget to follow up with any additional requirements. If you will be sending SAT or ACT test scores, be sure to have an official copy sent if the college requires this. For colleges that require a midyear report, be sure to have your high school send that at the end of the first semester.