The College Application

Posted: September 27, 2012 by UI Upward Bound in College Info

The college application process begins during the fall of a student’s senior year. Application deadlines for colleges range from the middle of November to well into March, so it is important for students to decide where they want to apply and submit their applications and financial aid forms on time. While you can use tools like College Board’s College Matchmaker to learn about a college and their admission information, always contact the college’s admissions office to get the most updated information.

With more than 4,000 different colleges, there is a variety of ways each college actually reviews and selects their students. Only a handful of colleges have a “highly-selective” admissions process. Almost all colleges admit a majority of their applicants. However, students need to be prepared academically (take the right classes and challenge yourself) and socially (get involved with your school and community). These are the most important factors in your application. Talk with each of your potential colleges to learn how they review their applicants so you can do your best in the admissions process. 

You can usually submit an application online or on paper via postal mail. You will most likely be required to send in additional materials, such as test scores and transcripts. Make sure that you complete the entire application and that the college receives everything to make your application complete.

To make sure you are on the right track for your senior year, download a copy of the 12th grade College Readiness Checklist.

Parts of a College Application

  • Personal Information – This section requires you to fill out contact information, parent/guardian information, and demographic information. This is simply a fill-in-the-blank section.
  • Transcript/Grades – Some colleges require you to send official transcripts, while others simply have you self-report your courses and grades in the application itself. This allows the college to see how you have performed academically and how you have challenged yourself.
  • Test Scores – Most colleges will require you to submit official test scores directly from the testing agency. Check with each of your potential colleges to see the best way to report your standardized test scores.
  • Personal Statement/Essay – Many colleges have the opportunity for students to describe who they are beyond test scores and grades and this typically happens in the personal statement. Make sure you spend time writing, revising, and reflecting on the essay prompt.
  • Short Questions/Responses – Colleges can often add additional questions beyond a large personal statement to get to know you even more. Make sure to follow directions and respond to each prompt.
  • Activities Log/ Résumé – To show what you do outside of the classroom, many colleges may ask you to fill out an “activities log” or include a résumé. This allows you to showcase your involvement at your school, community, and personal life.
  • Additional Comments – Students typically have the space to provide any additional information that is not already included in the application itself.
  • Letters of Recommendation – Certain colleges or honors programs at colleges may want to hear from someone that knows you academically or personally and ask that you submit a letter of recommendation. Make sure that you ask your teachers or counselors well ahead of the deadline and provide them with a paid and addressed envelope.
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