All colleges require that you submit personal information and a copy of your high school transcript. For many two-year colleges, that may be enough to complete the application. Most four-year colleges will require more than that, possibly including:
STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES
SAT/ACT: Standardized tests widely used by American college admissions to assess applicant readiness in reading, math and/or writing.
Test-Optional: Over 1,000 colleges and universities have begun de-emphasizing test scores as part of their admissions process. Some schools have become test optional – applicants can choose to not submit SAT or ACT scores – or test flexible – applicants can submit a variety of test scores to fulfill the requirement – while others are lessening the importance of test scores in admission decisions. The list of these schools can be found on FairTest.org as well as information about the reasons behind these changes. Different schools may have different requirements so be sure to check out each school’s specific application needs.
+Content credit to FairTest.org
This is an opportunity for you to convey who you are beyond your grades or test scores. It demonstrates that you can write clearly, express yourself effectively, and allows you to describe your aspirations, values or passions. Colleges that require this essay expect about 500 words, though check their specific requirements.
Each college application will how you spend your time when you are not in class. The best way to present this information is through a professional resume. Use the following format and tips to create yours:
Everything you’ve done in high school, no matter how big or small, should be included on your college resume! This includes:
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Asking for a Recommendation Letter
Why do some colleges want letters of recommendations from my teachers and counselors?
How do I decide which teachers to ask?
What preparation do I need to do before asking for a letter?
Do I need a letter of recommendation from my counselor?
What preparation should I complete before asking my counselor for a letter?
Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation:
Colleges use specific prompt(s) that answer questions they want to know about applicants and can allow you to provide more information about yourself, such as why you chose to apply to a college or department.
This conversation with a college admissions officer or alum gives the college a chance to get to know you better, and gives you an opportunity to ask informed questions about the school.
The vast majority of colleges employ services that provide standardized online forms. These services allow students to apply to multiple colleges without having to retype common information while still providing a means for colleges to ask questions particular to their programs. Some institutions accept applications from a particular service exclusively, while others accept alternatives. Colleges may offer students three primary types of application for undergraduate admissions.
The Common Application is the most widely used application service today.
The Common Application, known informally as the Common App, is an electronic application system for undergraduate admissions to over 800 member colleges and universities.Depending on the college and/or major, the student may be required to answer supplemental questions.
The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is a group of over ninety colleges and universities committed to providing access to students of all backgrounds. They believe this can be done through free technology that introduces students to college planning and guidance early in their high school years.
College-Specific Applications: Some colleges provide their own, college-specific application systems, allowing them to control and customize questions, forms, and final data collection. These are offered instead of or as an alternative to services provided by the Common Application or the new Coalition Application. To verify which application types a college accepts, search the college’s website for freshman or undergraduate admissions instructions.
Students who apply earlier have a few advantages:
Once your application has been submitted, updates can always be provided to the admissions office.
+Content credit to BigFuture.Collegeboard.org and NACACnet.org
There are four main decisions you might hear from the colleges you apply to:
+Content credit to BigFuture.Collegeboard.org and Petersons.com
If you are deferred:
A notice of deferral is not a rejection and can be a great opportunity to let the college know some additional information about you. Tell the school that they are still your top choice, if they truly are, and explain why that is true.
Update your application with any new material you feel would be helpful. (For example: an additional letter of recommendation, honors or recognition, continued rise in grades from first to second semester, etc.), new accomplishments or awards in activities and competitions since you first submitted your application.
Be sure to send your first semester, senior-year grades.
Consider contacting, or having your counselor contact, the school to see if it would be helpful to provide any specific information or explanations about you based on their initial reading of your application.
Once you have been deferred by a college, you are no longer bound by that school’s early application rules. You are free to consider any offers and financial aid from all colleges that you have applied to.
If you are waitlisted:
There are various reasons why students are waitlisted. Now that more students are applying to more colleges, it has become harder for colleges to predict which admitted students will enroll. Consequently, colleges are waitlisting more students as a form of insurance. Colleges may waitlist qualified students whose grade point average or test scores are a little lower than the students who received an offer. Then, the lower statistics do not bring down the average test scores of the new freshman class, but the college can accept such students if they absolutely have to in order to fill all available slots.
Other students may be waitlisted because they have not shown enthusiasm for the school by visiting the campus, meeting their respective college admissions representative when they are in the student’s area, conversing with their representative via other avenues such as email, or just not showing enthusiasm for attending the campus in the written format of the application. They may calculate that the student is not interested enough to enroll if the college admits the student.
In addition, overqualified students are sometimes waitlisted because the college assumes the student has applied to many very competitive schools and will not choose to attend their university. In these cases, by waitlisting the student the college is acting to protect its yield—the percentage of accepted students who actually enroll at the college. Colleges like to show a low acceptance rate of students who receive an offer of admittance and a high yield of admitting those who do receive an offer.
When a college offers an early action or early decision plan, many admission offers have already been made by November. So when regular decisions are offered in March, a waitlist can serve as a way to play it safe until the college has acceptances in hand and knows how much financial aid money is left.
The first action waitlisted students should do is accept an offer from one of the colleges or universities that did accept them and pay the enrollment deposit to that school by May 1st. The student must then decide whether or not to accept a place on the waitlist of the other school. Students are advised to only accept a place on the waitlist if the student intends to enroll at the college if admitted. If the student decides to accept a place on the list, the student should follow the college’s instructions for accepting the waitlist invitation. It is important to keep in mind that colleges may have very little financial aid left for students admitted from their waitlist.
Strategies for Getting Off Waitlist:
Most students will not get off the waitlist, but there are ways to improve the odds. Most importantly, a waitlisted student needs to be proactive; the student should be eager and creative without appearing distraught or desperate.
If accepted off the waitlist, be ready to make a decision very quickly. Typically the offer will be made via a phone call and the timeframe to respond will be very short; 24-48 hours is common.
If you change your mind, and no longer want to be on the waitlist, immediately contact the admissions representative and ask to be removed from the list and/or do so via your online portal with that college.
If you are planning on playing sports for your college or university, you will not only complete a regular application to the school but you will also complete a talent-specific application. Here are some basic steps:
If you are applying to visual or performing arts programs, you will not only complete a regular application to the school but you will also complete a talent-specific application. Here are some basic steps:
Visual & Performing Arts Resources