Getting Started with Checklists
  • 14 Jun 2024
  • 8 minute read
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Getting Started with Checklists

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  • PDF

Article summary

Checklists are a visual indicator of required items for any given Application. These items can be viewed both internally (by institutional staff) and externally (by an applicant).

This article covers the planning and conceptual elements of checklists.

For detailed instructions on configuring checklist items, see Custom Checklist Items.

For more information on adding checklist items to an application, see Assigning Checklist Items.

Tip can be used to share information regarding applicant data, such as Checklist items, between undergraduate admission offices and high school counselors, independent counselors, and community-based organizations. See Application Sharing Settings for more information.

Checklists Overview

Checklists display three key data points:

  • the checklist item name (“Details”),

  • its current status (“Status”), and

  • the date the checklist item was marked completed (“Date”).

Slate users with the necessary permissions can update the status of checklist items, add new checklist items, or remove some items from the checklist entirely.

Checklist item statuses

Checklist items have three public-facing statuses, which are visible both internally and externally:

  • Received, which appears as "Received" with a green check mark and the date that the checklist item was fulfilled.

  • Awaiting, items appears as "Awaiting" with a red X .

  • Waived, which appear as "Waived" with a grey check mark ✔️ and the date that the item was waived.

Two additional statuses are available, which are only visible internally:

  • Received Copy, which appears identically to “Received”. Applicants will see the “Received Copy” as “Received”.

  • Hide, or Hidden which causes the checklist item row to become gray and marks the date that the checklist item was hidden. Hidden items will not be displayed to applicants.

The checklist as seen by a Slate user.

The checklist as seen by an applicant. Note that "Received Copy" appears as "Received," and "Hide"/"Hidden" does not display.

Custom Checklist Statuses

In addition to the standard checklist item statuses, custom statuses can be added to some material types. This is for advanced use-cases only, and is not recommended for most institutions.

📖 Further reading

See Custom Checklist Statuses for more information.

How Checklists Work

Before getting started with checklists, it can be helpful to understand how checklists work. The following two subsections cover the two main mechanisms of checklists: adding items to the checklist and marking those items as “received”.

Adding Items to a Checklist

By default, the only items that are added to an applicant’s checklist are References and School Reports, if those parts of the Slate-Hosted Application are enabled. Some items, such as Test Scores, can also be configured to appear on the Checklist based on their own configurations.

For all other items, rules must be configured to specify when they are added to a Checklist. Checklist items can either be added as part of a group of items, or individually.

📖 Further reading

See Auto-Generated Checklist Items & System Materials for more information about these items.

See Assigning Checklist Items for more information about checklist rules.

📝 Has your institution been using Slate since before 2019?

You may also have transcripts automatically added to your checklist. For more information, see this article.

Checklist Fulfillment/Received Status

To determine whether or not a checklist item is “received,” Slate checks for the existence of objects you’ve configured to fulfill that item’s requirement. These objects are aptly named fulfillments. Fulfillments can be materials, test scores, or forms. It’s also possible to use rules to mark an item as “Received” using custom criteria, or to mark an item as “Received” administratively on an ad-hoc basis. See Checklist Item Settings for more information about configuring checklists and fulfillments.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • When a material, test score, or form is received that satisfies a checklist’s material requirement, an Activity is created on the application. Activities are logs of what significant actions have been taken or events have occurred on a specific application. Activities have other purposes beyond the checklist, and are similar to Interactions on a Person or Dataset record. Activities representing fulfilled checklist requirements display with the code Received. The activities relating to checklists do not need to be configured.

  • Checklist items are marked “Received” by activities, not the actual existence of a material, test score, or form. Removing an activity with the received code will result in the corresponding checklist item(s) returning to “Awaiting” status, even though the material, test score, or form still exists on the applicant’s record.

  • For further tips, check out our Troubleshooting Checklists article.

Planning Your Checklist

If you are just getting started in Slate, or are looking to update your application checklists, it’s recommended to take some time to inventory the items that you want to track on your checklist. You can do this in software, such as Microsoft Excel, or using a pen and paper—depending upon which method makes the most sense for you and your team’s needs. As a part of planning, be sure to note:

  • Checklist items (i.e. application requirements)

  • Materials (i.e. the documents, test scores, or forms that an applicant submits to fulfill an application requirement)

  • Groups, or sets of common application requirements for different types of applicants (ex., first-year students, transfer students)

  • (Optional) Sections, or organizational distinctions for different types of application requirements (ex., admissions checklist, financial aid checklist, matriculation checklist)

Checklist Items and Materials

Remember that your applicants will submit materials, and those materials will then fulfill your checklist items.

  • Checklists are meant to serve as a visual indicator (like a label) of what your institution requires of an applicant.

  • Materials are the actual materials (documents), test scores, or forms that an applicant will submit.

Before building any checklist items in Slate, consider the types of materials required from an applicant. You may find that it’s easier to think about the requirements of your application (checklist items) first, and to fill in the materials that can be submitted to fulfill them second. Others may find it easier to think about the materials that can be submitted, then extrapolate checklist items from that list. Try your best to be exhaustive, but rest assured it’s always possible to add new checklist items and materials later on if you miss anything.

Here are some typical examples of checklist items, and the materials that might fulfill them:

Checklist Item



Slate-Hosted Application

Common Application
Coalition Application
CAS Application

High School Transcript

Official High School Transcript
Official GED

College/University Transcript

Official College/University Transcript

Teacher Recommendation

Letter of Recommendation

Financial Aid Application

CSS Profile

ACT or SAT Scores

Official SAT Scores
Official ACT Scores

GRE or GMAT Scores

Official GRE Scores

Official GMAT Scores

Proof of English Language Proficiency

Official TOEFL Scores
Official IELTS Scores
Official DET Scores

Checklist Items and Groups

After determining your application requirements/checklist items, the next step is to identify which group each item should belong to. Groups are sets of checklist items that are added or removed from specific applications together. Not every checklist item will fit neatly into a group, but we still recommend assigning every item a group—even if that group only has a single item in it. As an exception, school-scoped checklist items cannot be assigned a group.

💫 Best Practice: Assign Every Item a Group

We recommend assigning every checklist item a group. Checklist items that are assigned as a part of a group will be automatically removed when an application no longer meets the criteria for that group of items (as defined in your checklist rules). In contrast, checklist items that are assigned individually will remain on an application’s checklist until manually removed by a Slate user with the appropriate permissions. You may have some checklist groups with only 1 checklist item in them, and that is totally fine!

Some common examples of groups are:

  • All Applicants

  • First Year Applicants

  • Transfer Applicants

  • International Applicants

  • Visiting Applicants

One approach to plotting your checklist groups is to begin with a list of checklist items and materials, then extrapolate. Ask: “Who is required to submit this item?” When multiple types of applicants are expected to submit any given item, try to find the commonality.

For example, you might require Proof of English Language Proficiency for international undergraduate first-year applicants, international undergraduate transfer applicants, international visiting applicants, and international graduate applicants. The commonality between these applicants is their international status.

🤔 Common Confusion: Group or Section?

While commonly confused, groups and sections serve distinct purposes. Groups determine what checklist items are added to an application together. Sections are visual or procedural distinctions between checklist items and are intended to help organize and split out the checklist, if needed, for external display. They are generally used to divide a checklist into categories such as “Admissions Checklist” and “Enrollment Checklist”. You can think of groups as internal and functional, and sections as external and visual. For more information about Sections, see Custom Checklist Sections.

Here are some typical examples of checklist items, who might be required to submit them, and the groups they might belong to:

Checklist Item

Required by…



All applicants

All Applicants

High School Transcript

Undergraduate first-year applicants

Undergraduate transfer applicants


College/University Transcript

Transfer applicants

Graduate applicants

Applicants who have attended a college/university prior to application

College/University Transcript

Teacher Recommendation

All applicants

All Applicants

Financial Aid Application

Students applying for need-based financial aid

Financial Aid

ACT or SAT Scores

First-year undergraduate applicants

First-Year Undergraduate

GRE or GMAT Scores

Graduate applicants


Proof of English Language Proficiency

Citizens of countries where English is not the primary spoken and/or written language who did not attend high school or university in the United States

English Language Proficiency

Building Your Checklist

After your checklist has been planned, you can begin the work of building your checklist and materials in Slate!

Checklists and Materials can be configured by visiting their respective pages from the Slate Database tool. They can be found using the search function at the top of the Database tool, or under the “Records and Datasets” section. It’s recommended to create your materials first, as they will be used in the Material Fulfillments settings for checklist items.

For more information about configuring materials, see Materials Settings. For more information about configuring checklists, see Checklist Item Settings. For more information about assigning checklist items, see Assigning Checklist Items.

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