Back-to-school list: status check

As our students head back to school, we’ve been busy collaborating with them to ensure they’re on the right track. Included below are two checklists – one for seniors and another for juniors – to help you determine whether you’re on time to complete all required steps.

List One: If you plan to start university in the fall of 2018 …



  1. Create an applicant profile(s)

  2. Students applying to undergraduate programs in the United States generally apply using one of three standard applications. These are: Common Application; Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success; and Universal College Application. While it may be possible to apply to individual universities, using one of these applications makes it easy to apply to several schools. To maximize your time, you should consider which applications are used by the universities on your list. In Canada, where education is under provincial jurisdiction, similar application systems are available for universities in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. If you’re applying to UK universities, you’ll need to register with UCAS.

  3. Work on your personal statement(s)

  4. Universities are interested to learn more about you. Personal statements are your best opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions committees. Use these to provide information that is not contained in other parts of your application. To help you get started, universities provide essay prompts. Visit each of the above application systems to review the essay prompts and to find out more about their guidelines. If your preferred universities do not subscribe to any of these applications, you will need to visit institutional websites to find out more about each university’s essay requirements. In the Canadian setting, prompts are available on university admission webpages.

  5. Retake standardized tests

  6. If you are not pleased with the score on any standardized tests you took over the summer, consider retaking the test as soon as possible. Of course, if you have not yet taken required tests, you will need to register as soon as possible. Registration deadlines are often well in advance of test dates. Remember test dates – as well as space – may be limited in your area. Click on the following links to check registration deadlines and test dates for the ACT, SAT, IELTS, and TOEFL.

  7. Get organized

  8. Research the admission requirements for of all of your preferred universities. Create a checklist of all requirements for each university as well as the deadlines and set milestones for each. You’ll need to make sure to check the list often, and to check off items as you complete them. The list is only useful if you use it. Pro tip: Enter reminders on your mobile device for each milestone. You can also use this checklist we’ve created.


List Two: If you plan to start university in the fall of 2019 …



  1. Meet with your guidance counselor

  2. You need to ensure that you wisely choose your courses. Remember that universities will want to see that you’ve taken rigorous courses. So while you may be tempted to take the foot off the pedal, you really should be doing the opposite. Your achievement in your course work is an indicator or your preparation for university level work.

  3. Stay involved in extra-curricular activities

  4. Universities are interested to know how you spend your time outside of class. Your activities outside of class tell universities a lot about the kind of person you are. When it comes to extra-curricular activities, it does not matter what you do but why you do it. Also, the quality of your involvement is more important than the quantity of activities. Try things that interest you but focus on those that are special to you.

  5. Plan to take standardized tests

  6. Most standardized tests are valid for several years. This is a good time for you to determine which test better suits your style. Take sample tests of the SAT and ACT. This will help you determine which one feels better, and to find out in which you perform your best. Do the same for the TOFEL and IELTS.

  7. Research academic programs

  8. Take time to think about what it is that you want to study. You still have some time to make a final decision but it’s a good idea to have some goals in mind. At the core of our educational consulting are a career-style interview and an aptitudes and interests assessment. These tools help us get a more precise sense of what academic programs the student may want to pursue.

A Final Reminder

University applications are composed of various elements, and some universities may have slightly different requirements. While some elements of your application are submitted by others, you are responsible for ensuring requests are processed and that all required documents arrive on time. This is your application. Own it.

VerveSmith helps students find schools, universities, and programs that match their aspirations, and to develop an admissions application strategy. To learn how we can help help, contact us.

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