Applying to College
Choosing Colleges for Your Applications
- Decide which schools meet your criteria.
- Try to determine if you meet their criteria.
- Use common sense. Don't apply to a dozen colleges.
Top Ten Tips for The College Search and Application Process
- Start early.
- Be yourself. Don't be swayed by friends or by what you think admissions committees want to hear.
- Maintain a strong record throughout your senior year – colleges will ask!
- Visit all top-choice schools.
- Apply to colleges of varying selectivity. Always include some fallbacks.
- Take deadlines seriously: filing applications, reporting test scores, financial aid applications.
- Spend time on your applications – especially your essays. Proofread and photocopy.
- Keep your counselor informed! Be visible in the College Counseling Office.
- If the process is getting you down, visit your college counselor.
- Trust your instincts.
Types of College Applications
Early Decision (ED) - This is a binding plan; students who are admitted are expected to withdraw any outstanding applications, pay the enrollment deposit and commit to attending the school.
Restrictive Early Action (REA) - A non-binding application plan that prohibits an applicant from applying simultaneously to any other institution via an ED process.
Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) - A non-binding application plan that prohibits an applicant from applying simultaneously to any other institution via an ED, EA, REA or SCEA process. Typically these schools allow students to apply to public universities as long as they apply under a non-binding (EA or rolling) process.
Early Action (EA) - This is a non-binding plan. Students will not receive a financial aid package until April and typically have until May 1 to decide if they will enroll.
Rolling Admissions - Some colleges and universities make decisions on applications as they are received. The later a student applies, the more difficult it may become to be admitted. Many, but not all, state systems operate with rolling admission.
Priority Deadline - Some colleges and universities indicate a date by which students should apply in order to receive maximum consideration for admission. These deadlines are commonly implemented for scholarship consideration or admission to more selective academic programs.
To Do List
- Know which tests each college requires, register for them on time, and request that the testing agency send your official scores to each college to which you are applying.
- Apply online using the Common Application whenever possible.
- Electronically request transcripts to be sent from your Naviance account by October 1 for in-state universities and any Early Decision/Early Action schools, and by November 1 for all Regular Decision private colleges and public universities.
- Allow yourself sufficient time to do carefully written and thoughtful applications. Check your spelling and grammar. Answer every question. Have your counselor review it before you submit it.
- Keep in mind the importance of the essay. You are presenting yourself. At a time when so many of the competitive colleges have the largest applicant pools in history, writing a strong essay becomes even more important as a means of differentiating yourself from other applicants. This is your opportunity to convey a sense of yourself to the admissions committee. Ask your college counselor or English teacher to read your essay and make suggestions.
- Request recommendation forms from one or two of your teachers, as indicated by the colleges. Ask teachers who know you well and have taught you in an academic class your junior or senior years. Ask the teacher in person first, and then make the request in your Naviance account. Include the deadline date in writing. Do not request recommendations from teachers just before the winter holidays! Remember that the same teacher can write for all of your colleges.
- Keep a file that contains copies of all applications, essays and financial aid forms, even those submitted electronically. Materials can occasionally be lost in the mail or online, or get misfiled by a college admissions office.
- Keep the College Counseling Office up-to-date on your applications and any action that has been taken. Ask questions about anything you do not understand!