College applications include all the basic information colleges need for reviewing a student. There are key aspects and a few different types of admissions, so read below for more information.
Components Of the College Application
Standardized Test Scores Most colleges require a student's SAT or ACT scores so students must send scores to the colleges they are applying to from the College Board website. Each time you register for the SAT or the ACT, you will receive four free score reports, use them! It doesn't help to see you scores first because colleges will take your best scores from all the times you've taken the test. Additional score reports cost $12 per college. Check the "SAT/ACT" tab for more info on standardized tests and test optional schools (aka. schools that don't require an SAT score for admission).
Application Form Students will have to fill out an application form to provide basic information about themselves and their education. Once you know what schools you will apply to, its time to identify and start the application. Some colleges have their own application while many use the Common App. Check below for more information about the Common App.
Note what is required by each college
Create an online account
Record your username and password
Follow directions carefully
Hit “save” often
Spell check and proofread before sending
Log into your account at each college to ensure your application was received and is completed
Check your email and online college portal often for communication about your application
College Essay In the application, students will be asked to provide a college essay. This is an opportunity for the student to share their personality with the college. Check the "College Essay" tab for the essay prompt and writing tips.
Application Fee The average college application fee is $41, but it varies per school. Colleges may waive that fee based on family income or you may be eligible for a fee waiver. Talk to the college’s admission office if application fees are keeping you from applying to the school.
Letter of Recommendation Colleges require letters of recommendation (typically 2) as part of your application. At least one should be from a teacher but individuals from the community, such as a supervisor, coach, or an organization leader, can also write letters of recommendation.
Ask before the end of your junior year to give them plenty of time to write it and be sure to ask in person .
Provide each recommender with a resume or “brag sheet” so they can write a robust recommendation about you.
Request your recommender on Naviance. (Go to the Naivance tab to see how.)
Check back with your recommender in the Fall, letting them know your college application deadlines.
Send then a thank you card after they’ve written your letter.
High School Transcript Your high school transcript is a compilation of all of your courses and grades. Be sure to request transcripts from the Guidance Office to be sent to EVERY school to which you are applying to.
Personal Interview (optional) Many liberal arts colleges and some universities allow you to interview with admissions staff. This is a chance to make yourself stand out. If you are interested, ask admission reps at the college if interviewing is an option. Below are some interviewing tips.
Research the college in advance and be ready to talk about why it's a good fit for you
Be ready to talk about what you can contribute as a student
Have thoughtful questions to ask
Send a thank you note to the interviewer
The Common App allows the student to complete one application and send it to multiple colleges. This saves students time! Click the button below to create an account and check out the video for a walk through.
There are a few different types of application deadline types. So familiarize yourself with what each term means, check what the schools you are interested in offer, and decide how you will apply.
Early Action (Deadline in beginning of Nov. or Dec.)
You are submitting your application at an early deadline in order to receive an answer back sooner. If you receive an acceptance letter you are not bound to attend. You can accept an offer as soon as you receive it or wait to make your final selection in the spring after you’ve found out where else you’ve been accepted. More seats are available earlier in the admissions process so if you really like a school, it is a good idea to apply early decision.
Early Decision (Deadline in beginning of Nov. or Dec.)
You are contracted to attend this school if accepted. If you receive an acceptance letter, you must withdraw any other applications to other schools. Since this option is binding, you need to be sure about your choice and realistic about your application. Make sure you get your guidance counselor’s opinion before you submit an application with early decision.
Rolling Admission (Deadline varies)
The school evaluates each application as it is received and sends responses to students 4-6 weeks after receiving the application. Since admission is granted on a “first-come, first-serve basis,” you’ll want to submit your application as early as possible.
Priority Deadline (Deadline varies)
Colleges (typically those with a rolling admission process) use priority deadlines to encourage early applications. Similarly to early action, students who get their application in before this deadline have a slightly better chance as more seats are available but they are not bound to attend the school.
Regular Decision (Deadline in beginning of Jan. or Feb.)
All students must submit their applications material by a specific date. The admissions board then reviews all the applications and sends out acceptances and rejection letters in the Spring.
Open Admission (No Deadline)
Typically, community colleges offer this type of enrollment. Open admission means that nearly all high school graduates are admitted, provided they have a diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Students who have a lower than average GPA in their high school courses may want to find a college with this policy.