reading acceptance letter to college

How Many Colleges To Apply To? College Application Process Checklist And FAQ

Getting into the college of your choice is a challenge. It helps to make a checklist because then it’s clear what you need to get done. Let’s take the stress out of doing all these applications. Here is a checklist that you can follow and make sure you are doing the right things at the right time.

What Is A College Application?

It is a form for a student to submit to a college or university. It includes personal information, academic history, test scores, and other relevant information. Administrators consider the information to determine whether to admit the student.

Colleges are an exclusive club in a sense. You cannot simply show up, you must go through an application process. There’s a hard deadline, after which applicants will be vetted. The intention of the school is to pick the students that are the best fit. They have a sense of what qualities they are looking for, and what to avoid. They eliminate applicants who they think are not going to complete the program. Every college has its own decision-making process, but all applications are similar.

Every college has a college application form that a student must fill out. It tells the Registrar’s department what program you are applying for. It also contains a cover letter about who you are and why you would be a good fit for the college. It tells the school what schools you’ve attended and what your grades were. You need your current school to send an official transcript to the school you are applying for. Your current school will charge a fee, and you have to pay it. The school will mail your transcript to the school’s admission department. You cannot submit your own transcript.

How many colleges should I apply to?

You should apply to between 5-10 colleges and programs. Applying too little runs a risk of not getting accepted to any college. Too many, and you’re multiplying the work and the cost of applying to college. That means your applications may lose some quality because you’re spread too thin.

Every college application has a cost to it. Every application that you do will have its own cost. There will be the cost of sending your transcript to that school, there will be the application fee. Then there’s also the cost of your time. For each application, you may have to write an essay and personal statement. That can take days and hours to do your best work. That means, to apply to 5 colleges, you can expect to pay roughly $250-$500 in fees and 10 – 50 hours of writing. To apply to 10 colleges, you can expect to pay roughly $500-$1000 in fees and 20 – 100 hours of writing.

How long does it take to apply for a college?

It takes several hours to submit your applications to college, but it takes at least six weeks to gather everything you need (essays, recommendations, and transcripts). You will only know if you are accepted after the release date which is in March or early April when applying for the Fall semester.

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.

College Application Checklist:

To get you started on your journey we made a checklist that you can use to ensure that your plans are successful.

1). Make a spreadsheet of your colleges and the steps you need to take (Use this template to get started)

Define the college application process
  • In the U.S. get the specific application criteria and application forms for each of the colleges that you want to apply to. 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.
list of colleges to apply to
A screnshot from the college application checklist

How Many Colleges Are In Ontario?

There are 23 accredited colleges (also called Universities) in Ontario.

Thinking of going to college in Ontario, Canada ? Apply though the Ontario Universities Application Centre In Ontario, use the map of Ontario’s colleges and campuses or browse programs by category. According to OUAC, you can only apply to 3 programs at 1 university.

2). Research the college’s website and call their admissions officers to ensure you have all the requirements and deadlines correctly understood

 

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.

student researches college application process
Research colleges

 

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.

3). Acquire letters of reference from the teachers. Send an email requesting a letter. Use this as a template to get started.

 

Admissions officers seek candidates with solid academic records 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.

college application process involves asking for a letter of recommendation
Ask for letters of recommendation

Don’t know how to ask gracefully? Use this as a template for a letter to your teacher:

Dear [Insert Teacher’s Last Name Here],
Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I am applying to  [Insert college name here]. Is it possible if I can get your recommendation?If you want to rate me poorly if you think I am a bad person, feel free to do so.  If you think I am a good person and you rate me well, thanks in advance. Really, please try to be as honest in the recommendation as possible, I wouldn’t mind if it sheds me in a terrible light.
 
Sincerely,
[Student]

I like this email because it gives the teacher a perfect example of your integrity: you are asking them to be brutally honest. 

4). Start filling out application forms like Common App or Ontario College Admission.

 

To fill out the Common Application to apply to college, follow these steps:

  1. Create an account: Go to the Common App website (www.commonapp.org) and create a new account by providing your basic information.

  2. Profile: Complete your profile, including your name, address, and contact information.

  3. Education: Fill in your high school information, including the name and address of your school, your graduation date, and your GPA (if available).

  4. Testing: Enter your standardized test scores, if applicable.

  5. Activities: List your extracurricular activities, including any clubs, sports, volunteer work, and honors or awards you have received.

  6. Essays: Write the Common App essay and any additional essays required by the colleges you are applying to.

  7. Recommendations: Request letters of recommendation from your teachers or other adults who know you well.

  8. Submit: After reviewing your application for accuracy, submit it to the colleges you have selected.

Note: The specific requirements and questions may vary depending on the colleges you are applying to, so be sure to read their instructions carefully.

5). Write your essays and personal statement for the 5-10 colleges/programs that you are applying to.

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.”

Use essay tools that assist writers to make their writing easier to understand. Here’s a short list of some tools you can try:

  • Google Docs Voice To Text – Use Google Docs with Voice to Text and speak your essay out. People tend to write much better when they write like they speak!
  • Hemmingway App – This tool is perfect for simplifying your sentences.
  • Grammarly – This tool can detect typos and errors such as repeated words.
  • ChatGPT – If you are ever stuck on a section, you can stimulate yourself with some generated text. Rewrite most or all of the generated text because AI doesn’t actually know what it’s talking about!

6). Submit all the requirements by the deadline, and wait for the good news on the decision release date (Usually between Mid march to April).

 

College applications have hard deadlines. That means if you miss the deadline, you have to wait until the next round of applications begins. There’s no exceptions! Get your application in order and submit it well before the deadline that you researched in Step 2.

college application process involves hard deadlines

What To Do When You Have Been Accepted

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.

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 your actually accepted college was not listed on the FAFSA application, you can simply edit your application after the fact.

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 frequent preparation work done earlier.

College Application Tips

Now that we know the steps involved in successfully preparing for the college admissions process, let’s consider a few additional tips for success.

Do The SAT Exam After Working With A Tutor

Did you know there are SAT tutors and whole courses on getting prepared for the SAT exam? The higher your SAT score, the higher your chance of being accepted to your schools of choice. 

Take the SAT exam at least 3 times and submit your best result with your college application.

College Essay Tips

  1. Write like you speak and use simpler words to make the reader feel more welcome.
  2. Show the reader who you are by telling a story about your life. Describe a scene from your life vividly 
  3. Pick a theme about yourself. For example, the story in your essay can be about your family, your school, your spirituality, and so forth. 
  4. Read your essay out loud and if there’s a part that is hard or unnatural sounding then rewrite that part.
  5. Get others to give their honest feedback. Feedback is a gift, but only if it’s honest. If there is a part of your writing that is confusing the reader, then take it out completely.

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.

Include Your Extracurriculars in Your Applications

Admissions officers seek candidates with solid academic records 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.

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

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 League, 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.

Prepare 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.

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Digital Marketing Manager with a background in Mathematics.

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