Paper Application vs. Online Applications
If applying on a paper application, make sure that it is the current and correct application. Many colldges will not accept an old application. New applications will typically be available in late summer before the senior year of high school begins.
To apply online, visit the college websites. You can also visit the Common Application, www.commonapp.org, which allows you to submit one application to many member colleges. When applying online, make sure to upload or send in any additional materials and submit a Transcript Request/Release form to the high school, School Counseling Office so your official high school transcript is sent to each college you apply to. Most colleges will not consider your application complete without these additional materials.
Application Fee or Waivers
College application fees are usually non-refundable and can range from $0 - $100, and sometimes more. Not all colleges charge an application fee and there are a few ways that application fees can be waived:
- SAT Fee Waivers: If you qualified for an SAT Fee Waiver, you can send in an application fee waiver with your application. You can get the application fee waiver from your School Counselor.
- NACAC Fee Waivers: A form is available from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. The form can be downloaded from their website www.nacacnet.org and must be signed by your School Counselor.
- Alumni Vouchers: Some colleges offer alumni and college employees the chance to send in a voucher to waive the application fee or an interested student. Contact the college for details.
- Campus Visits: Some colleges waive the application fee if you have visited the college. Ask the College Admissions Office for details.
- As the College directly for a fee waiver. They may be able to work with you!
Colleges/Universities will only accept transcripts that are "official". Official transcripts should be sent directly from your high school to the college/university by either being electronically transferred or signed, embossed with school seal and mailed in a sealed envelope directly to the college/university . Transcripts in envelopes that have been opened by anyone other than the college/university are no longer considered "official" and will not be accepted by colleges/universities for your application.
Some colleges and universities require standardized test scores (SAT or ACT)* as part of the application package. However, some schools are test optional, meaning a test score is not always required for acceptance. Check with the college's Admissions Office to determine whether or not a test score is required.
Test scores can be automatically sent to colleges you are applying for by filling out the School Code (a 4-digit code unique to each College/University) in the appropriate box on the test. School codes are entered at the end of each test. If your college of choice is unknown, scores can be sent after testing, but additional fees may apply.
*Test fee waivers are available for eligible students for both the SAT and ACT. All test fee waivers are available through your School Counselor. They do not, however, cover late registration fees so be proactive....ask for the waiver and sign up for the test early!
Some colleges provide an application pathway that does not require a standardized test score. In this case, submitting a standardized test score, like the SAT or ACT, is optional. Without a test score though, supporting documentation becomes very important. You'll want to check with the college's Admissions Office to determine what additional materials may be required in lieu of a test score.
The character statement is the student's promise that there is no false information on the application. Make sure it is signed and know that colleges with character statements look at lying on your application like teachers look at plagiarism. Honesty is important.
High School Counselor Recommendation
This informs colleges of the high school's grading scale, the student's class rank and lets the Admission staff know the applicant is in good standing and intends to graduate on time. Many colleges require materials in addition to the application. Each college has different requirements so make sure to send exactly what that college requests.
Many colleges ask for 1 - 2 teacher recommendations. These recommendations should be from 11th or 12th grade teachers who taught an academic core subject. When asking a teacher to write a recommendation, ask them early in the fall semester of your senior year so they have time to write a thoughtful letter and are not swamped with other requests. You want the teacher to be able to shine the best possible light on your application. You may also want to request a recommendation from your School Counselor if they know you well.
An Essay is a writing example on a specified topic. When writing an essay on an assigned topic, make sure that you answer the question that is asked.
A Personal Statement is usually on any topic chosen by the applicant. When choosing a topic for a Personal Statement, don't write about information you already listed in the application (such as a list of activities you're involved in). Colleges already have a handle on your day-to-day activities from the application. Instead, write about something that they wouldn't know about you by just reading the application. Describe the impact you made by performing a service in your community. Why do you want to attend this college or major in a certain field? What is an interesting fact about you or an experience that you've had that the Admissions Office would find interesting or unique?
Some colleges require an interview with either an Admissions Counselor or alumni as part of the application review process. If required, schedule this interview as soon as possible because interview time slots can fill up quickly. You can do this online or by calling the College Admissions Office.
If you are applying for an arts, theatre, or music program, some colleges require a portfolio or audition submission at the time of application. Contact the college to inquire about setting up an audition time or for specifics on portfolio submissions.