Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies
Applying to College : An Overview
The college application process can feel overwhelming. There are decisions to make, deadlines to meet, and essays to write. However, taking it one task at a time will help make it easier. Below is an overview of the major tasks involved in the college application process:
Task 1: Deciding Where to Apply
Most people cannot apply to every college they may consider because it would be time consuming and could cost a great deal of money in application fees. However, it is recommended to apply to enough schools to ensure that you are accepted at at least one of your preferred schools. The number of schools a student should apply to depends on the selectivity of their first choice. For admissions candidates whose first choice is to attend a college with an open door policy and are not applying to a selective major, one application may be sufficient. However, for candidates whose first choice of college is a highly selective school, more applications are recommended.
In general, candidates should apply to at least three colleges. One of the schools could be a dream school (the school you would most like to attend but cannot be sure you would be accepted to). Another school on your list should be a safety school. This is a school that you believe you will have no trouble being accepted to and would be willing to attend if you are not accepted at your other choices. Candidates should decide the number of schools to apply to based on their interests, time, and finances.
Task 2: Deciding When to Apply
Having selected the schools you want to apply to, you will need to check their Web sites for their application deadlines. Admissions deadlines are typically in January; however, always check with the school to be certain.
Some colleges will give early decisions to applicants who apply early. Be aware that sometimes these early decisions are binding. A binding decision means that the applicant agrees to attend that school if accepted.
There are also colleges that have rolling admission. This means that they will accept applications until classes begin. However, it is still best not to procrastinate because earlier applicants may have an admissions advantage because the school might have more spaces available earlier in the year.
Task 3: Completing the Application
Once you have decided where and when to apply, you must complete the application and submit it. Completing admissions essays can take a considerable amount of time. Therefore, it is best to complete the application in several sittings. It is also important to proofread your application prior to submitting it because you want to present a professional appearance to the college admissions representatives.
Some schools allow you to complete the Common Application in place of their application. This will save you time if you are applying to more than one school that allows you to use the Common Application. Colleges that accept the Common Application often have a supplemental form; it is important to check to see if this is a requirement at the schools you intend to apply to.
Task 4: Applying for Financial Aid
To apply for financial aid, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There is a paper version and an electronic version. To complete the electronic version, visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Be careful of other sites that claim they will file your aid application for you. You could end up being charged a fee or even being scammed.
Apply for financial aid as soon as possible after the first of January. Grants (financial aid money you do not have to repay) may no longer be available for students who wait too long to apply. It is not necessary to know which school you will attend before you apply for aid. You can list up to four potential schools on the paper FAFSA and ten schools on the electronic FAFSA.
Task 5: Selecting a College
If you have been accepted to more than one college, you will have to select one college to attend. If possible, visit each of the colleges you are considering to help you find a good fit for yourself. As you are deciding which college to attend, there are many factors to consider such as academic offerings, distance from home, cost of attendance, and the surrounding area.
Applying to college is very involved. Each task is comprised of its own steps. To prevent the process from becoming too daunting, it can be helpful to complete one task at a time.
Content copyright © 2013 by Susan D. Bates. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Susan D. Bates. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Susan D. Bates for details.
Website copyright © 2013 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.