A college application is a process in which an individual submits the basic requirements to enter a university. The kind of requirements that would be asked of the person depends on the institution or college and the country.
- Background/ locality information
- Academic performance
- Awards or extracurricular activities
- General grade point average
- ACT and SAT
These various requirements are common in most colleges around the world. You need to meet these basic minimum requirements to gain admission to college. You will need to apply on time and meet the college’s required standards to get accepted.
We will review the steps to fill out a college application.
How do I Start a College Application?
1. Do your research
Before applying or going into college, you should get the necessary information beforehand to be prepared to fill out the application.
You want to see what is required on the application form so you can gather all the documents. The other way to do it is to just get the information you need or documents as you fill out the application.
2. Be organized/ put things in order
Maintaining an orderly manner in your preparation is vital in your college application. When you know the basic things that would be needed on the form fill out day, the following things should be done:
a. Have the documents ready
b. If you have a personal computer, create folders that say college admission or application to store documents
c. If you did the research from the first step, then you should have everything ready to sit down and fill out the application
You will need:
- Test scores
- SAT results
- or ACT results
- Write your essay
- Have someone proofread the essay
- Recommendation letters
- List of activities from high school
- Have someone review your application for errors before sending
- Know the deadlines and submit early
3. Talk to a guidance counselor and others
Meeting a guidance counselor to give you advice and directions before you apply for college would be helpful. They have a ton of experience and can help greatly.
You can also talk with older college students you might know or family. There should be many others around you that have gone to college so see if they can give you advice.
The internet can also help with information you need to fill out a college application.
4. Get recommendation letters
As a student who is about to apply for a college, I advise you to get your recommendation letters ready. These letters are vital as they describe the performance and character of the student in his or her former place of study.
That’s why you need to meet those counselors that are very close to you. When the admissions teams see a positive recommendation letter about you, it will boost the possibility of you gaining admission into the college of your choice.
When Should I Start Filling out College Applications?
If you have decided that you want to go to college, you will need to start filling out the college application. This is very important so you can have enough time to do everything you need for the application.
College application deadlines have 4 options regular decision, early decision, early action, and rolling admissions.
When to have your college application ready:
- The deadline for the regular decision is January 1st. You need to have everything done and at the university by January 1st. Send it earlier and do not procrastinate.
- Early decision the deadline for most universities is November 1st. You need to have the college application done way before that so you can get it in early. (Early admissions will offer two options, early decision, and early action.
- Early action has the same deadline as early admissions which is usually around November 1st.
- Rolling admissions is where schools accept applications during a set time. This will usually start in the fall and go to spring. You should not wait to apply at a rolling admissions university because it is first come first serve.
The summer before your final/senior year
It is an important part of the year for deciding on a college to go to. Hopefully, you have decided the college you would love to go to. Deciding on that early is very essential to mapping out where you need to apply and schools to visit.
Setting time up to work on the college application, essay and recommendation letters are critical. Working on it the summer before your senior year is the key.
The long three months holiday (October-December)
If you are just doing the regular decision college application, then this is the time to finalize everything for it.
- In October, you can review the list of colleges that you have visited and that best fits you. Have each college rated then apply for as many as you can to make sure you are covered. If you do not get into your top choices, you still have some backup colleges you applied to.
- October and November finalize the application and material needed. Make sure you have a couple of people proofread everything before applying.
- November or December you need to submit your applications to the colleges you have chosen.
So, early preparation and early submission is the one key to getting admitted into your desired college.
What do I Need for College Applications?
We have reviewed some of the information that is needed on your college application. Let’s go into more detail.
1. General information
- Personal information: This document contains all your details like your name, surname, date of birth, email address, phone number, identification card, and last test/exam score.
- Honors: Admissions will look at any honors you won or earned at your former school to understand your school achievements.
- Application essay: This one is vital also because, without it, the college will not accept you. You should have a well-prepared essay to get into college.
- Acceptance/Application fee receipt: You need to pay the application fees.
- Major: If you are going into nursing then college like to see you volunteered or worked at a hospital or doctor’s office. It is best to show consistency and do it for two years, not just one. The more you show admissions you are serious about a major you selected the better chance of admissions.
- Extracurricular Involvement: What extracurricular activities did you do in high school that will help with getting into college. How important is involvement in high school activities?
2. Final year grade report
This is an important criterion by college admissions as they would want to see your grades. The final report card with GPA from your senior year is required.
Grades are important so check with the colleges to see what grade point is needed for acceptance. There are obviously some schools like the Ivy League schools that have strict grade guidelines.
This does not mean that if you have all b’s in most subjects, you’re in trouble. Having B’s is ok and rates slightly above average. You just need to know what schools will accept students with a grade point average that is not a 4.0.
This will prepare you to not be heartbroken when your college application process is declined.
3. Counselor/Teacher recommendation letter report
The recommendation letter is important so make sure you line these up early.
Here is a template of other recommendation letters.
The recommendation letter that will be written by your teacher, counselor or other should contain your general behavior and performance in school or at work.
What is FAFSA and do I Need to Complete that for a College Application?
FAFSA if you don’t know the meaning is Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a kind of form that is filled by students who want to apply or who are already in the college to determine if there are eligible for financial aid.
The federal government normally provides billions of dollars to certain qualified undergraduate and graduate students. These funds provided are managed by FAFSA and distributed in the various colleges.
The sole purpose or reason FAFSA came into place is to help assist a student financially. The student and parents will have to provide their total financial budget for a year that includes the child school aids.
FAFSA will help to reduce the money that the parents will spend for college. It also lessens student debt. To fill out the FAFSA form check out the website.
Do I Need to Complete FAFSA for College Application?
Completing the FAFSA registration is not a mandatory process for college application unless that college makes it mandatory. Registering for FAFSA normally is optional, because it helps financially for both the parents and the student.
But I would advise that you take full advantage of it and fill out the form no matter your financial status
What is a Common Application, and do I Need to Fill this Out?
A common application is a student or undergraduate college application whereby an applicant can apply to multiple colleges or institutions at the same time.
One of the best parts of a college application is that a student will be able to access various college teachings and experience and improve on his or her general abilities.
This platform is accepted by almost 900 colleges inside of the US and a few others outside the country. One of the main purposes behind the introduction of Common Application Is to reduce or stop the barriers that most students face during the application for a college.
You should start the application during summer in other to submit it on time. The common application is mandatory I would say, it will improve your learning process in diverse ways.
The length of time taken to fill it out depends on that college. Some can take weeks while others could just be a few days, the application essay type is to be chosen by you the student. You can think of any topic that captivates or that explains things about yourself.
Steps to filling out a college application
- The general setup process and college selection
- Profile setup
- Family background
- Education history profile
- Past tests are taken questions
- School activities
- Additional supplement questions
Important College Application Deadlines you Need to Know
Every college has its different application deadline, but they usually fall almost at the same time/period. There are different application deadlines, there are;
Early application deadline: Early application generally starts from the first week of November to the third week of the month. This period is for those students that took an early decision and action on whether to go to that college.
Date Early Application: November 1st through 15th usually
Date Pardon: January 1st
Then there’s a kind of pardon given to these early registrants that couldn’t summit all the required documents in the first two months (November-December). The pardon date is January 1 which is ok. The college will only do this for trusted students that they know will want to get admitted into college.
You can round up all the application processes during this period as you’ve got enough time to prepare. It should be made clear to you also that as far you’re taking an early decision and applying early, you won’t be given room to apply for other colleges.
Normal/Regular college application deadline: This system is practiced by some colleges who don’t bank on early registration.
Dates: The application process is from the first week of January to the third week.
This kind of deadline, which is easy, I would advise you send your recommendation letter and other documents on time. You need to make sure you submit between November to December.
This system gives you enough time to put things in order so you won’t have to do the last-minute rush during the application process that could lead to errors.
Rolling college application deadline: This deadline process will usually give you a window of time to submit the application.
Date Range: This usually is between fall to spring
The key here is to get the application in early.
When can I Apply to the University?
- Application for universities should be done before the deadline so your application can be considered. If you’ve set your mind on the university you want to apply for, go ahead and research their semester’s calendar.
- Do not in any way jeopardize your admission process by missing some important credentials or dates. Before you apply for the university, you should do enough research about how they run their screening process so you can be on point.
- The best advice I can give you on when to apply for college is to apply when fully prepared. Fully prepared in the sense that, you have full knowledge of the university you want to go, it’s screening rules, obligations, deadline, and other characteristics. For a successful college application, early preparation is the key to your smooth early admission into the university.
You need to know there are different platforms in which colleges accept applications. The application used the most is the common application that I talked about earlier. You can see below that different colleges will use one of the following platforms.
Which College Application Platform Should I Use?
I will be giving you the highlights of them below.
A. Individual College Application
Some schools in the US do not love the idea of using an external application system. Many colleges you will have to fill out their application to apply to the school. Number one example is the University of Wisconsin.
The coalition Application was established in 2015 and it is a group of 140 different colleges and universities that help you apply easily to college. This platform helps to gather information into lockers, you can store photos, documents and videos in the locker.
To sum it all, it reduces the stress in storing information (essays and test scores) for the student. It has been deployed in a lot of colleges like Cornell college and Brown college
Examples of universities that exclusively require the Coalition Application were the University of Florida, University of Washington, and the University of Maryland. This means is if you go to one of the schools that use a coalition application, then make sure that is what you fill out to apply for that school.
It is the most common platform for all college applications, it is the most popular and employed by over 750 colleges in different continents. This platform gives time for the students to prepare early for college application between the first and second week of August.
The College Application Essay, What Would I Need to Know to do Well?
How you write your essay is very important in the college application process. As it is commonly known, most colleges do prefer to rank or admit students by their test scores and grade points in their former school.
There are a few and special colleges that prefer to choose from the way the student wrote and presented his or her essay.
The main point from this is that the way you present your application essay is a major key for you in gaining admission to the college.
Essay key points:
- Start the essay early
- Reflect more on your work, don’t just recount
- Be specific and get straight to the point
- Do or write what you’re asked to do
- Write mostly about yourself
- You want to tell an incredible story
- Write like you talk is beneficial
- Keep it simple
- Revise as much as needed and often if you need to
- Write about things you care about it will help
- Be yourself when writing
- Do not let anyone else write this for you
What is a Resume, and do I need to Submit One with a College Application?
I would say, a resume is kind of a summary of your achievements and good works outside of the classroom and school.
The importance of submitting your resume in your college application is that it tells more or elaborates certain characteristics of you as a student that would be difficult to compute in other documents. In other words, it gives a quick summary of your life as a student, person, and leader.
So yes, I would tell you again, the resume is nice and highly recommended for you as a student. Adding it to your college application process will help you in gaining admission to the college of your choice.
Key Components of College Application
- Your essay writing
- Transcript documents
- Test scores
- Recommendation letter
- Application form
- School profile/ personal information
What are the College Application Fees and can I get them Waived?
Most college application fees are difficult to pay and keeps increasing and getting someone frustrated. That’s a major reason the application fees waver was created.
The purpose of the application fee waiver is to help the college or university reduce the amount of money spent on the application process and giving out admission to students.
How do I get recommendation letters for my application?
- Meet those counselors and teachers that are close to you and ask them to write one.
- Have a close friend who will write a letter for you.
- Relatives can help with letters.
- If you know any prominent people in your area that do know you ask them for a recommendation letter.
- Do you have a boss that can write a letter?
I hope this has helped you better prepare for filling out the college application. We wanted to walk through the different steps of the application. You just need to set up the time with no distractions to get the applications done.