This time of year many seniors are feeling behind on applications. As we step in to assist, there’s the reminder of a fairly consistent rule on the college bound journey: 2 weeks.

Regardless of where you are on the journey, keep this rule in mind and know with each step along the way, you ought to at least 2 weeks.

  • College Visits: The general rule of thumb is to plan no less than 2 weeks in advance. It isn’t unusual for special visit days to fill sooner than that. The early bird gets the worm!
  • Testing Registration: While we encourage students to register for the ACT and/or SAT as soon as they settle on a date, know that the final late registration deadline is always about 2 weeks before the test date.
  • Test Scores: The time frame varies a bit from ACT and SAT and even among test dates for the same test, but generally you can expect your scores to be available online about 2 weeks (business days) after testing.
  • Sending Scores to Colleges: Sometimes it is faster, but allow – you guessed it – 2 weeks for processing your order.
  • Recommendation Letters: Teachers are busy and often taking time out of their personal lives to write a letter of recommendation for applicants. With that said, if you are up against deadlines and the teacher hasn’t written your letter within the 2 weeks, it’s okay to give a gentle, polite nudge. “Thanks, Mrs. Smith, for your willingness to write my letter of recommendation. At this point, the college shows all pieces of my application received except my recommendation. I’m anxious to finish my application and wanted to check with you on this.” Once complete be sure to send a thank-you note.
  • Transcripts: You need your counselor’s assistance in addition to teachers’ writing letters of recommendation. Colleges require your school to send official transcripts. With high school counselor to student ratios often as high as 1:400 or higher, schools often require at least 2 weeks’ notice to process your order and get it to the college. Many schools will not even send the transcript until you verify that you’ve submitted your application. Be sure to always follow your school’s process to a T!

Deadlines for college applications are midnight on the stated date for online or by postmark if on the rare occasion you are mailing something. Given that systems can become overloaded and possibly crash, why not submit it 2 weeks early?