The college application process may be stressful, especially for those who do not have parents or siblings who have gone through it before and can provide guidance. Because there are so many procedures to do, like writing an essay and acquiring letters of reference, experts recommend that students make a to-do list during their junior year of high school. It simplifies a lot of things if you can see the number of tasks and a plan to complete them graphically. It will alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with the college application process.
Experts note that students often begin filling out college applications the summer between their junior and senior year of high school, despite the fact that there is frequently preparation work done earlier.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll go over everything a prospective student needs to know about filling out a college application and prepping for admissions.
How to make it through the College Admissions Process
To successfully get through the college admissions process, try to follow each of these steps– and start early!
Prep Ahead of Time
Look out the application criteria and application forms for each of your preferred institutions on the internet. Check the websites of each school to determine if they accept the same application, such as the Common App or the Universal App. (We’ll go over this in further detail in the “tips” section.) It will save you a lot of time and effort if your selected college uses a common application.
Prepare for the application process by becoming organized. Make a folder for each college that will house all of the materials required for that application. Make a calendar with application deadlines and other crucial dates highlighted. Make sure you have access to all relevant documentation, both electronically and on paper. Transcripts from high school, letters of recommendation, and achievement awards are examples of such papers.
Remember that a college application is more than simply a single form. Various colleges have different application deadlines, documentation, and other criteria. In most cases, you may apply for college either online or by mail. Because most institutions require application fees, be sure you have some money put up for the procedure.
Apply for Financial Aid Ahead of Time
The FAFSA is available to all students who need financial assistance while attending college. We recommend applying for FAFSA as early as possible. During the application, you will have to list your potential schools of interest. If you actually accepted college was not listed on the FAFSA application, you can simply edit your application after the fact.
Understand the College Application Process
The college application process is the first part of the admissions process. An application form, whether online or on paper, is always included with a college application. A high school transcript, admission exam results, a personal essay, and letters of reference are all required by most institutions. Applicants to some universities are required to participate in an interview.
Submit Your Applications and Additional Materials On-Time
Typically, you’ll want to start this process far ahead of time. Because you’ll likely have to procure letters of recommendation and pen a lengthy college essay, we recommend starting the college admissions process in your junior or senior year of high school.
Once Accepted, Make Your Deposit
Most institutions will want you to submit a deposit once you’ve been admitted. A deposit guarantees your place in the incoming class and, in many cases, permits you to go forward with your top dorm choices. For most schools, deposits for autumn enrollment are refundable until about May of the following academic year. You’ll need to pick which institutions, out of the ones you’ve been admitted to, are a suitable fit for you during this time. Additional college tours and talks with admissions counselors will help you narrow down your choices. Look at virtual visit possibilities if you don’t live close enough to see some schools.
Prep for Matriculation
The final part of the college admissions process is becoming a matriculated student. Once you arrive on campus and relocate all of your possessions for the academic year, you are called a matriculated student. When you say you’ve “matriculated,” it implies you’ve applied, been accepted, deposited, committed, and are now formally enrolled in your institution of choice. Congratulations! College is a time of responsibility, development, and life-long memories. It’s time to become engaged, establish new friends, and leave an indelible impression on campus at this point.
Tips for Success
Now that we know the steps involved in successfully preparing for the college admissions process, let’s consider a few additional tips for success.
Apply to College with the Common App
The Common App is a non-profit membership organization that represents over 900 different colleges and universities. This network connects applicants and their supporters to a diverse range of public and private schools and institutions in all 50 states of the United States, as well as 20 other countries. Sign up for the Common App as soon as possible, then check to see if the universities on your list accept it.
This is the most important tip in this guide. Look up the deadlines to apply to all of your colleges and prepare ahead of time. Virtually all higher education facilities will not accept applications past the deadline. You can find important dates and deadlines via your potential college’s website. Always apply early.
Take Your Time Choosing Your Potential Schools
At most, we recommend applying to ten different colleges. This is due to the high cost of application fees, plus the fact that most of these universities may not accept your application. Reduce the number of colleges you’re considering to a core 10 or less.
Once you’ve received your acceptance letters, you’ll need to decide which college you want to attend. It’s a good idea to pick a school that’s a good fit for your professional goals. Talk to other genuine students about their experiences at your desired college. Compare financial aid packages to see which one makes the most sense for you financially.
Include Your Extracurriculars in Your Applications
Admissions officers seek candidates with a solid academic record and a demonstrated history of extracurricular activity. Well-rounded students who live a balanced focused and busy life are frequently given preference and scholarships by admissions committees.
Make Sure Your College Essay is Top-Notch
Avoid fluff while answering application questions and essay prompts. The use of repetitive filler words and phrases can tire the reader and make your college applications essay stand out. Write precise, succinct lines that immediately respond to the challenge, expressing who you are and why you want to attend that particular institution. Simple, eloquent essays impress admissions reviewers more than wordy, incomprehensible language that “sounds clever” or is “trying too hard.”
Always Be Honest
Don’t make any false statements on your college applications. Admissions authorities are permitted to investigate your claims and references, so lying would only cost you in the long run. It’s also dishonest to allow your parents to fill out your application. It is you, not your parents, who are applying to college. It’s OK to inquire about their thoughts on the subject, but having someone else write your essay or fill out your application is unethical.
Aim for a High SAT/ACT Score
Even if a college doesn’t need SAT or ACT results, it’s typically a good idea to submit them nevertheless. Many students take the SAT or ACT during their junior year, allowing them time to determine whether or not they want to take it again in the fall of their senior year. Official practice questions and exams, many of which are free, are the best method to prepare for either exam. You can also hire an SAT tutor, purchase an SAT or ACT study book, or enroll in SAT or ACT prep sessions.
Be Diverse in Your College Application Selection
Students should apply to a range of schools, including those that are safe, match, and reach. You should also ask yourself important questions during your college application search. Your high school guidance counselor can assist you in compiling a list of possible institutions for which you meet or surpass all admissions requirements. These will be your safeties and matches, indicating that you have a good possibility of being accepted. After that, you can start considering reaching schools or institutions where you’re less likely to get accepted. It’s worth noting that several colleges, especially the Ivy Leagues, are open to all students. Even if you are denied from your desired school, applying to a number of institutions assures that you will be accepted to at least one of the universities on your list.
Are you ready to take on the college admissions process?