Beginner’s Guide to College Applications: Sending Supplemental Items

By Ashley McCarrick

You’ve completed the application, written the essays, and formulated a resume. Now it’s time to get others in on the action as you ask teachers and counselors for recommendations. You will also need to submit your SAT ® and/or ACT ® test scores and your high school transcript. You are almost to the finish line!

Step 1: Ask for recommendations.

Many colleges have your teachers and counselors submit electronic recommendations, but others will still want an old-fashioned, hand-written submission. It could be a short form a teacher completes and mails in or a letter detailing your strengths. Be sure to follow your colleges’ guidelines exactly. It is also a great idea to give a thank-you note with a small gift ($5 gift card for Starbuck’s) to your recommenders to let them know you appreciate the time they are spending on your behalf.

Step 2: Send your SAT ® and/or ACT ® test scores.

Depending on your colleges’ requirements, you may be able to send a single test score for SAT ® or ACT ® tests, or you may need to send your entire record. Some colleges may even “super score” and look at your highest section scores across separate test dates. You should look on the college’s website to determine which scores to send. Then go to for SAT ® and SAT Subject Tests ™, or to for the ACT ® test, and sign in. You will then be able to send official scores from your account. If your high school lists your test scores on your transcript, that is usually not a replacement for sending official scores.

Step 3: Send your high school and college transcripts.

Your registrar’s office should have a request form to complete in order to have your transcript mailed to your colleges. Most high schools charge a nominal fee for each transcript mailed. If you took any college courses during high school, don’t forget to request these transcripts as well. Request your transcript long before the application deadline so you can be sure each college receives one. Most colleges update your application status online so you can keep track of what is still missing from your file.

Step 4: Check for any supplemental information required by colleges and/or majors.

Some colleges and majors will request supplemental essays, forms, and other information in order to apply. Don’t forget to check websites carefully and always ask your college admissions officer if you have any questions.

For each college you apply to, you will need to complete the above items. It is usually easiest to take it one step at a time and keep a checklist so you don’t forget anything.

NOTE: Always confirm the receipt of each of these items by each college on your list after an appropriate time has passed. Better safe than sorry.

Ashley McCarrick is an Executive Director at KD College Prep. She has been serving KD students since 2007 and enjoys helping teenagers discover their dreams. In her free time, Ashley delights in spending time with her daughter, Lilley, and volunteering with various local organizations. You may contact her at


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