Applying to a college or university often requires gathering materials to showcase your abilities as a student and your interest in higher education. Though it can be quite involved, the process is relatively standard across most institutions in the United States.
The college application process: Step-by-step
It’s a good idea to start the college application process several months before application deadlines, especially if you have other obligations like school or work. For standard admissions, many high school students start their applications in the fall of their senior year.
1. Know your application deadlines.
At the very beginning of your college application process, you should start compiling a list of where you want to go, including dream schools, target schools, and safety schools.
2. Sign up for standardized testing.
Many students take the SAT or ACT for the first time in the spring of their junior year, leaving them room to retake either test if they want to improve upon their results. The latest you’ll want to take standardized tests for applications due in January is the fall of senior year. Though many schools have stopped requiring standardized test scores for admission, others still do. And submitting your scores may help you qualify for scholarships or other merit-based aid.
3. Start your personal statements.
Colleges generally ask for one or more personal statements or essays. These are opportunities for you to convey who you are beyond your grades and test scores. Dedicate a few hours to brainstorming ideas, creating an outline, and writing a first draft. Then have trusted friends, teachers, or family members look it over for feedback.
4. Ask for letters of recommendation.
Ask for letters of recommendation a few months ahead of your application deadline. This is because teachers might be swamped with recommendation requests toward the end of the year. You’ll want to give them plenty of time to prepare the letter and collect any information they need from you. Ask them what they might require when you ask for a letter of recommendation.
5. Submit your transcripts.
Most colleges require official school transcripts to see how you performed in academic settings. If you need your transcript to be sent to the colleges/universities you’re applying to, please complete stop by the counselor’s office to complete a request form.
6. Fill out your application.
Don’t forget to take some time to fill out the application itself. The application might ask for general information like your extracurricular activities, parent or legal guardian information, and any honors you have received.
7. Double-check and submit your application.
When the application deadline is approaching, double-check the application to see if everything you need has been uploaded or submitted. To submit an admissions application, often times a fee is required. If you would like to utilize an application fee waiver, please stop by the counselor’s office.