Almost time to stick that Thanksgiving turkey in the oven (and can that Christmas music be far behind?). [By all rights, if the heralding of Christmas (1 day) begins the day after Halloween, the festivities for Chanukah (8 days) should start right after Valentine's Day. Just sayin'... ]

Early Action. Early Action II (like hitting the snooze button?]. Regular Decision.Now is the time to put those finishing touches on the yet unsubmitted applications. Dot the i's. Cross the t's. Answer the optional supplemental questions. Be mindful of deadlines. Do not wait for the last minute.

Portfolios. For those with Art or other program-specific portfolios, remember that these must be submitted separate and apart from your applications (usually, through Slideroom). Be aware of portfolio deadlines.

Report Test Scores. Remember, you MUST report test scores (ACT, SAT, SAT II, AP) to colleges you apply to (when they require scores for admission) directly from College Board and/or ACTstudent. The unofficial report of scores on your applications does not cut it for most schools.

NOTE: For those awaiting complete scores (including the essay) from the October ACT, they are scheduled to be available online on November 28. Update your applications accordingly, and do submit official score reports to the colleges you'd like to see them.

Update Naviance. After you submit your applications, be sure to update Naviance (under, Colleges I Am Applying To). Keep Guidance in the loop! [Submit all forms as may be required by your high school.]

Read Your Emails! 'Nuf said... 

Check those "Application Checkers" Regularly. Log on to the college web portals at least once a week. Make sure they have everything they need (transcripts, recommendations, school reports, test scores) to consider your application. ALLOW FOR LAG TIME. It could take a week or two, after material is received, before the website is updated. Be vigilant, but be patient!

Prepare and Submit the CSS-Profile. For those colleges that require this College Board administered fin aid form. Yes, it is primarily used to determine eligibility for need-based aid, but some colleges use the Profile as their application for merit aid and internal scholarships. If a school you have applied to is on the Profile college list, complete and submit.

NOTE: The FAFSA, required by ALL colleges (and not just for student loans and Pell grants), can - and should - be completed and submitted as soon as possible. Do NOT wait until Christmas! [As the FAFSA is required to be submitted for every school year, returning students should file their FAFSA Renewals at this time.]

***You Need An FSA-ID. For those new to FAFSA, StudentLoans.govStudentAid.gov, or other federal aid websites, you must create anFSA-ID to gain access.

NOTE: For the do-it-yourselfers - You need to create TWO (2) FSA-ID's. One for the student. One for a parent. 

The Great Scholarship Search. Because free money trumps (no, not THAT trump) student debt. Know where to find scholarships, which ones to apply to, and the best practices for actually getting your hands on some of that free money. Go Beyond Fastweb in your quest for scholarships. 

Speaking of Scholarships!  It's November. Have you applied this month for the $2000 No Essay Required Scholarship? [I didn't think so... Still waiting for Ed McMahon to knock at your door?] There are dozens of scholarships out there just as easy to apply for. Monthly. Even weekly. But you have to be in it to win it!

P.S. Ask me about the IJMIU form. No. Really. Just ask... 

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