How to Apply to College

So you have narrowed your college list to only the schools in which you want to apply. Your campus visits are finished. You have taken the ACT & SAT. Check, check, and check. This is only the beginning my friends. There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to applying to college. Applying to college isn’t difficult but it can be time consuming. Once you have narrowed your school list to only colleges in which you want to apply, we recommend you start as soon as possible gathering the necessary information to apply to each school.

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Get Organized

How to Apply to College - Get Organized

We cannot emphasize this enough before you apply to any college, get organized. Being organized will mainly keep you sane. No really, most colleges have several admission requirements and if you are applying to more than a few schools, well it can start to get overwhelming as to what you have submitted, when deadlines are, who you asked to give a recommendation, etc. When working with our clients, once they have narrowed their list to the colleges for which they plan to file an admissions application, we collect all the admissions requirements from each college. Next we organize the information to see what items will need to be gathered to complete each application.

Admissions Deadline

Knowing admission deadlines will help you to prioritize the order in which you complete the admission applications.

Application Fee

Believe us when we say application fees add up. Application fees range from $30-$60. If you are planning to apply to 8-10 schools, well you do the math. It may be wise to spread out when you submit your applications so that you aren’t paying all the application fees at once. Also be sure to pay attention to college websites, sometimes they waive application fees.

Standardized Tests

We recommend that you take the ACT and SAT before you apply to college. It isn’t a deal breaker if you don’t but it is a lot less stressful to have it done and over with. If not you will have the test looming over your head when you are applying to college and for financial aid. There is a fee involved when you request your scores to be sent to various schools so keep that in mind as well when you are submitting your applications.

High School Transcripts

You will need to go ahead and send your high school transcript. Once you have graduated you will need to have your completed transcript sent to each school in which you have applied. Some colleges have forms or transcript requests that you complete and give to your guidance counselor. Your guidance counselor will complete their portion of the form and submit it along with your transcript to the appropriate colleges. Please allow the counselor time to complete this process.


Some colleges require recommendations also known as references. The number of recommendations a school requires may vary between 1 and 3. Recommendations are different for each college. There are colleges that require a reference to complete a form while other colleges request a written letter. Many colleges request that the recommendation come from your guidance counselor. Other references can be teachers, coaches, mentors, club advisors, boss or supervisor, co-worker, community leader, pastor, or friend. It would be best to ask someone who knows you well and can give you a glowing recommendation. Please ask your reference well in advance to complete their recommendation. Send them a thank you note afterward thanking them for taking time out of their busy schedule to complete a recommendation.

Writing Requirements

Each college will have different writing requirements. Some will have short answer questions, while others will require essays. There are colleges that have both on the application. The writing requirements give the admissions committee a chance to get to know you and also measure your writing skills. We recommend our clients to write their essays and short answer questions in a separate document. Have someone proofread your admission essays and questions. We offer to proofread for our clients. Please, allow time for you to write, someone to proofread, and you to make needed corrections.

As you can see there are many requirements when applying to college. Now you see why we recommend that you get organized. Applying to college takes a lot of time on your part. Know your deadlines and work backwards on setting a schedule for when you need items completed in order to submit your admission applications on time. Once you have completed an admissions requirement, mark it off your list. This will make it easier to know what you have left to complete.

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Ways to Apply to College

How to Apply to College

There are a couple of ways to apply to college. You can apply on the college’s website or use The Common Application. Each method has its pros and cons. The Common Application can be very enticing because you are only completing one application and that application can be submitted to multiple colleges. Also a nice thing about the common application is that it tracks the items submitted to each school and your status. Keep in mind each school will most likely have different essay requirements, so you will have to keep track of that yourself. Not all colleges and universities use The Common Application so you will have to check the website to see a list of participating schools. If you decided to apply on the college’s website, be sure to keep track of what you have submitted. One of the perks of applying directly on a college’s website is that some schools waive the application fee if you apply early. In addition to applying on the college’s website and The Common Application, there are states that have their own college system where you can use one application and apply to many schools. A client of ours wanted to attend college in Texas. She used the state’s college application platform to apply to multiple Texas public universities. Your state may have that option as well.

So now you know how to apply to college or at least what it takes. Again organization is important in a process this big, especially if you are applying to several colleges. Leave a comment below. Let us know if you have any questions or recommendations on how you would apply to college.

 Creating a High School Resume saves time when applying to multiple colleges. It also is useful to give to references for writing recommendations. Using a high school resume can come in handy when applying for scholarships also!

Creating a High School Resume saves time when applying to multiple colleges. It also is useful to give to references for writing recommendations. Using a high school resume can come in handy when applying for scholarships also!