The Application Process
Step 1: Obtain Applications
Obtain application forms from colleges where you have chosen to apply by going online, calling, writing, or emailing them. It is advisable to do so during the summer preceding your senior year or as soon as possible after your return to school in the fall of your senior year. Most colleges have a website. You can make a request for information using the internet and/or apply online.
Step 2: Completing the Application
NOTE: Applying online is the quickest and most efficient way to get an admissions decision from a college. Most schools have online applications. Follow the directions and always remember to hit the "submit" button!
- Use a filing system to keep your applications, essays, and letters easy to find.
- Type or print neatly and legibly and spell correctly. You may be brilliant, but what good is that if no one can read your writing?
- Follow the application instructions as written.
- Notice and follow deadlines!
- Fill out the application completely - blank spaces may require follow-up information.
- ACT/SAT scores may need to be sent to the college you are applying to if you didn't request it when you signed up for the test. Contact ACT or SAT to have your scores sent, or speak with your counselor.
- Write an essay or personal statement, including who you are, your goals for the future, and why you chose XYZ University. Some colleges ask that you write an essay on a special topic. Make sure you have a teacher proof your essay before sending it in.
- Request letters of recommendation from teachers, your counselor, administrators, volunteer or work supervisors, or anyone you think would write a good letter attesting to your achievements, character, and work ethic. Give these people at least THREE weeks notice (perhaps longer) out of courtesy. Give them pre-addressed and stamped envelopes, if necessary. If possible, make sure to get extra copies of their letters to have on hand for other applications.
Step 3: Counselor Signature & Transcripts
- When your application is complete, turn it in to the counseling office.
- Fill out a Transcript Request Form with the college's name and address, and your signature (federal law requires your permission to give out your personal information). Each transcript costs $2. The registrar will send your application directly to the school address you provide.
NOTE: If applying online, you will still need to request a transcript from the counseling office to be sent to the college. If you have letters or an essay, these items should all be sent along with the transcript so that they all arrive together.
Step 4: Submit your Application, Wait for a Decision
- Admissions offices will only make decisions on complete applications. If your application is missing certain information (test scores, transcript, etc.) you will receive a letter or an email asking you to submit the missing information. Your application will not be reviewed until that information is received by the college. Admissions decisions usually take 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the time of year. If you apply early, you could get a decision in several weeks.
- If you are accepted - Great job! You must notify colleges by May 1st if you will be attending or not.
- If you are put on a waitlist - You should hear by the end of March if you are fully accepted or denied. If you still want to attend that college, follow any directions they might send you, but make sure you work on your Plan B in case you are denied.
- If you are denied - Call the admissions office to find out why. In some cases you are able to appeal or send in updated information that might help your application. If not, doing a term or two at community college to prove you can do college-level work will often help your application for the next year. Again, having a Plan B is a good idea.