Many students become nervous over the application process and it is normal to feel stressed about it. There are many steps you can take, and information you can familiarize yourself with, in order to feel calm and comfortable when filling out and sending in college applications.
What should be included in a college application?
- Transcripts contain:
- Course Grades and Test Grades (final exams, including regents)
- GPA (Honor Roll Status, if applicable)
- Class Rank
- Achieved Credits (including college credits)
- Transcripts contain:
- Schools will include a profile that will help college admissions to put the transcript into context (this is so all students are given a fair chance and not compared under false pretenses).
SAT/ACT Results (also included on transcript)
- Usually sent to colleges right from testing organizations (you can choose this option when taking the actual test).
- It is okay to take the same test more than once. The higher scores are considered for admissions to college.
- Check with college admissions to determine which tests they require (some may take just SAT’s or ACT’s, or some will take both. It is your responsibility to be sure).
- Recommendations bring you, the student, “to life” for admissions. This allows them the chance to see what type of person you are based on your experiences with teachers and counselors throughout high school.
- Some colleges may ask for recommendations from adults outside of school (someone you have a good relationship with who is not a family member).
- If you are not a strong student a good, descriptive recommendation can go a long way in helping during the admissions process.
- Make sure you give teachers a two week notice at minimum. Do not be afraid to keep asking them, you need to send them to the colleges (and teachers will appreciate the reminders). This also means being aware of deadlines for colleges and self-advocating.
- To ensure this is as easy for teachers as possible, provide them with an envelope and instructions with what to do with the letter when it is finished (either mailed to college or handed to the school counselor).
- Choose teachers who know you well and if possible, those who currently have you in class, and make sure you read the application thoroughly in case admissions offices want letters from different disciplines.
Essay (also referred to as a personal statement)
- The essay helps admissions to learn about you as a person by demonstrating and expressing things not found on the application or transcripts.
- It is important to do the best job possible on the essay because it is an opportunity for colleges to assess critical thinking and writing abilities.
- It gives colleges the opportunity to see how you describe your special interests or experiences as well as, values, attitudes, and expectations for the future.
- It basically allows college admissions to form an idea of how you may view yourself.
- 2 Types of Essays
- Open Ended (it is up to you on what to write)
- Describe Yourself and Why You Want to Attend College (directed…the college wants to know certain things about you)
- Colleges want you to describe yourself and reasons for any issues in other materials sent. They want a straightforward explanation to learn who you are as a person.
- You must revise and proofread often…the essay is a big part in showing admissions why you should be part of their college.
Useful definitions to understand…
*Early Action (EA) and Early Decision (ED)
- These options are only beneficial to students who have thought through college choices and have a clear preference of where they want to attend.
- Early Decision (ED) is binding. This means that if accepted on an ED application-you must attend that college.
- This college must be your first choice. By applying ED you are making a final decision.
- Because this is a binding agreement, the decision should not be made under pressure. You can only apply to one college ED and it needs to be signed off on by parents and the school counselor.
- Early Action (EA) is not binding. This means that students will receive an early response of acceptance from the college, but they do not have to attend or reply until the normal deadline of May 1st.
- These options can change yearly so it is important to remain aware of changes and/or options.
- Open Admissions
- A college will admit students without regard to the usual academic qualifications (i.e. high grades, school subjects, or test scores). Mostly all students with a high school diploma or equivalent are accepted. Most community colleges will have this admissions policy with requirements for certain programs (such as nursing).
- Rolling Admissions
- This is a policy used by most colleges. Admissions will look at and consider each application as it comes in completed (i.e. with school record, required credentials, test scores). The college with usually contact the student without much delay.
Many colleges are going to all on-line applications and it is important to be aware of the Do’s and Don’ts of this process. Due to so many college campuses rejecting the overuse of paper, it is important to familiarize yourself with this process on-line. This will cause you to feel more secure and less stressed about completing and submitting applications on-line.