Checklist for Early Decision Applications


With the November 1st early application deadline quickly approaching, many seniors are preparing to submit their college applications


We’ve got a college app checklist to share that you may find helpful. But first, we encourage students who are considering applying Early Action or Early Decision to take a step back and determine if this is really the right move for them. 


Should Your Student Apply Early?

Early Decision applications are binding, meaning that a student who is accepted must attend the college. Early Action applications get students their decisions equally fast but are not binding. 


Applying early can be a great choice for students who check these boxes: 


  • All recommendations come from junior year teachers
  • Application essays will be complete and ready go to by November 1st
  • Test scores are within goal range
  • 100% certain they want to attend the school (even if they are only applying Early Action and not Early Decision)


We advise students not to apply early if: 


  • They plan to retake the SAT or ACT to attain their target score
  • Senior fall grades will strengthen their application 
  • Application essays require further revision 
  • Current teachers will provide strong letters of recommendation


Checklist for Applying Early  

If your student is confident that applying early is the right choice for them, they only have a few more weeks to prepare their materials and submit their college applications on time. 


Here’s a quick checklist of the pieces they’ll need to finalize by the November 1st deadline: 


  • Application form. Students who have all the relevant information at their fingertips (e.g., Social Security number, parents’ employment information, resume, guidance counselor’s contact information, standardized test scores, education) may be able to complete the basic informational sections of the Common App, the online college application form that allows students to apply to many colleges at once, in under two hours.
  • Activity list. The Activity List section of the Common App is where students enter information about their extracurricular activities.
  • Recommendations. Most schools require that a student submit two teacher recommendations. Students are advised to request their recommendations in the spring of junior year, so provided a student has made the request and followed up accordingly, they should have what they need.
  • Transcripts. Students will need a copy of their high school transcript to fill in the Education section of the college application.
  • Personal statement. The personal statement (or personal essay) accompanies a student’s Common App. The objective of the personal statement is to bring the application to life by demonstrating a student’s values, personality, and intellectual maturity and proving their ability to communicate complex ideas. (Some schools may also require supplemental or school-specific essays.)


College Admissions Support 

Submitting an Early Action or Early Decision application is a big commitment that should not be made lightly. Each student is unique, and no one should ever feel pressured to apply early if they aren’t certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s the best path forward. 


If your student would like support in determining how to proceed, Signet’s college admissions consultants are here to provide expert advice and guidance, including comprehensive application planning, review, and feedback. Schedule a free call to learn more

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