College Application Stuff: Transcripts, Recommendations, Test Scores, Portals

Colleges receive different pieces of information about applicants from different sources.  This post will give you details on important pieces that you must do to finalize your applications.

You need to follow your school’s policy about requesting transcripts.  They may ask you to request them on paper; they may charge you a fee.  If your school uses Naviance/Family Connection, you may be able to request transcripts through your Naviance account, but you may not (if you see a hotlink that says “Request transcripts” on the “Colleges I’m Applying To” page, just above the list of your colleges, you can probably request them this way, but you should double-check with your counselor).

If you have attended more than one school since 9th grade, you will need to request transcripts from all schools you have attended.

You need to follow your school’s policy about requesting teacher recommendations.  If your school uses Naviance, you will most likely (but not always!) request teacher recommendations at the bottom of the “Colleges I’m Applying To” page.  If your school does NOT use Naviance, you should check with your school counselor to see how recommendations are processed.  You can request teacher recommendations through the Common Application – you will need your teachers’ first and last names and e-mail addresses.  A FEW schools (but really very few) that are not on the Common App also require teacher recommendations, and you will need their e-mail address for those as well.

Your counselor and/or your teachers may ask you to give them a resume and/or a “brag sheet” before they write your recommendation letter.  This is important!  This may be the best information they have about you while they write on your behalf.

We encourage you to look at each college on your Common App list and see how many teacher recommendations they allow (not the minimum, but the MAXIMUM).  You should also check to see if they allow “other recommenders,” which could mean recommendation letters from your tuba teacher, your priest, your yearbook advisor, the supervisor at your job or internship… get the picture.  If colleges are willing to read letters from people who could say wonderful things about you, you should see if you can find some people to say wonderful things about you! 

We made a quick little video so you can see where to find this information here.

You are responsible for sending your test scores to all of the colleges on your list, directly from either the College Board (if you took the SAT or are sending SAT Subject test scores – see video here on how to send), or from the ACT.  Regardless of whether or not you report your test scores in the Common App, or on college applications that are submitted directly to colleges, you must send scores.  The Excel spreadsheet below will help you keep track of WHICH scores to send to each school (hint: you ONLY want to send the ones that make you look like a SUPERSTAR, where you have the choice to send or not).



Tulane's Application Portal
Tulane’s application portal. They will send you login information after you submit your application.

After you submit your applications, many colleges will send you an e-mail with login information to an admissions “portal.”  You need to check your e-mail DAILY at this point because you don’t want to miss these messages!  Your portal will contain important information – this is where they will tell you if your application is missing something like a transcript, counselor recommendation or test scores.  This short video shows you an example of logging into a college portal – each school’s is different.

Please realize that while we do live in a rapid, digitally-connected world, there is a human factor in this process – things don’t get transmitted and attached to your application file instantly.  You should check your college portals about once a week, just to see if each college has everything they need from you.  DON’T FREAK OUT IF SOMETHING IS MISSING!  They will tell you when they have everything they need and your application is under review.  They might even tell you that you are admitted through your portal – without ever sending you an e-mail!!!!!!

Finally (whew!) – this really detailed blog post has short videos that walk you through every single section of the Common App.  Please take advantage of this resource – it took us a long time to put this all together!

Oh yeah – it’s not time to freak out yet.  We’ll let you know when it’s time.

Leave a Comment

Get started on your future, contact Magellan College Counseling today.