The College Application Process
Get Involved in Activities
Explore clubs and sports at your school and volunteer opportunities in your community. Find a couple of activities that really interest you and get involved. For future reference, start a record, or resume, of the things you have done. Throughout high school, as you increase your participation in jobs, activities and community service, you can add to and enhance this record.
Manage Your Time
Some activities, such as sports teams and volunteer activities like tutoring, may require up to 10 or more hours a week. Others, such as academic clubs or different volunteer activities, may require only a couple of hours a week. It's up to you to manage your time so that you are balancing your energy between your academics and your other commitments.
Stay Involved in Activities
Stay involved in activities that interest you. If you still haven't found something that you really like, keep exploring.
Visit a College Fair
Visit a college fair in your local area. They are usually sponsored by high schools and are free to attend. At college fairs, representatives from different colleges are available to talk about different college opportunities. Ask your counselor for more information, or call the admissions office of a local college to ask if they know of any upcoming college fairs in your area.
Prepare for the SAT
Look in the library or bookstore for books on practicing for the SAT.
Get Involved in School Activities
Choose activities that are meaningful to you and try to continue your involvement as long as you can maintain a good balance between your school work and extracurricular activities.
Talk to Your Counselor About the PSAT
Ask your school counselor or a teacher about how you can sign up to take the PSAT at your school (usually offered in October).
Take the PSAT
Try to do your best on this test because, depending on how high you score, you may qualify for certain college scholarships.
On your PSAT test form, you will have the option to mark a box to request information from colleges. If you mark this box, colleges will send you information about their school. By requesting this information, you will be able to learn about many colleges, including schools you might not have known about.
Gather College Information
Begin gathering information about different colleges by talking to your counselor, teachers and other adults and college graduates/students you know. Browse through college books in libraries and bookstores. Look at college web pages.
Visit Another College Fair
Go to another college fair to find out more about different college options.
Visit More Colleges
By the end of the school year, try to visit at least three different colleges to get an idea of college life and programs and services. Here are ways to visit colleges:
Call college admissions offices to ask about college tours and informational meetings. If you know people in college, ask them if you can stay with them for a weekend to tour their school. On your own time, walk around a college campus.
Start Searching for Scholarships
Begin researching scholarship options. You can visit your high school counseling office to find out more information about college scholarships that are available from your school and when.
Work Hard in Your Classes
Continue to try to get good grades to improve your chances of getting into college. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your skills- if you qualify, sign up to take the Advanced Placement tests at your school. Sign up to take the SAT I in May. Ask your school counselor about how you can get a fee waiver so you don’t have to pay to take the SAT.
Sign Up to Take the SAT II in June
Choose a subject in which you have been successful. Math and writing plus one other subject are required by most colleges.
Take the SAT I test
Take the SAT II Test
For this test, you need to complete a total of three tests. Each test is one hour long. You can take one, two or all three in one seating. If you are unhappy with your score, you have the opportunity to take one, two or all three tests again in the fall.
Write, Call or Email Colleges for Applications
You can also ask a counselor in your high school counseling office about which college applications will be available from your school and when. Or you can often download applications from college web sites.
Continue to Visit Colleges
Try to visit as many colleges as possible to which you are applying. The admissions offices tend to be less busy in the summer, and this is a good time to call and schedule an appointment with admissions counselors.
Photocopy College Applications
Making extra copies of your college applications means that you can use a few different drafts for practice or in case you make a mistake. Make a folder for each college and write the application deadlines on the front cover of each folder.
Begin Working on your College Essays
If you have not already done so, put together a resume of your extracurricular activities, community service, work experience and special interests to reference while you are writing your essays.
Decide Whether You Will Take the SAT Again
If you want to take the SAT again, look up the remaining dates to take the test and decide when to apply. If you want to take it in the early fall, be sure to register early enough. You can get a schedule of test dates and request registration information from the ETS web site.
Finalize Your College List
Finalize a list of six to eight colleges to which you will apply. Make a list of all the deadlines that you will need to meet. Talk with your counselor about fee waivers and write to the colleges themselves to request waivers for the application fees.
Take the SAT Again (If Necessary)
Consult your counselor if you need to request fee waivers for the test.
Take SAT II Subject Tests
Register to take three SAT II subject tests -- these should be completed by November or December. December is the last month the SAT I and II will be offered for students interested in enrolling in college for fall of the following year. Talk with your counselor about getting fee waivers for these tests.
Continue to Work on Completing Your College Applications Photocopy all College Applications
Making extra copies of college applications means that you can use a few different drafts for practice or in case you make a mistake. Make a folder for each college and write the application deadlines on the front cover of each folder.
Continue to Work on Your College Essay
Use your resume of extracurricular activities, community service, work experience and special interests to reference as you write your essays.
Show drafts of your essays to any current college students you may know for their feedback. Or show them to a teacher or other adult and them to help you revise or improve them.
Ask for Letters of Recommendation
Depending on what your application requires, ask your teachers, counselors or employers to write letters of recommendation for you that describe your interests and skills.
Ask your counselor to send your high school transcript to the colleges to which you are applying and also ask that s/he fill out a Secondary School Report.
Continue to Search for Scholarships
Find more scholarships that match your background and interests and apply for these.
Submit College Applications
Be sure to submit your applications before their deadlines. College application deadlines can range from anywhere between Nov. 30 and April 15. Make a photocopy of everything you send.
Complete Financial Aid Applications
Get your parents'/guardians' income tax information for financial aid forms. Submit financial aid applications by the deadlines (often Jan. 1).
Get a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form
Get your FAFSA from your counselor or from a college financial aid office. Complete and send in the FAFSA as soon as possible.
Submit a College Scholarship Service Profile
Check with the colleges to which you are applying to see if you need to submit a College Scholarship Service Profile. If so, submit it as soon as possible.
Make Sure Your Mid-Year School Report Was Sent
Confirm with your counselor that your mid-year school report was sent to the colleges to which you are applying.
Make Sure Colleges Received Your Application
Colleges usually send a card verifying they received your application. If you have not heard anything from the colleges to which you applied, call the admissions office to ensure that your file is complete.
Take Advanced Placement Tests (If You Qualify)
Ask your counselor about what you must do to register for Advanced Placement (AP) tests and ask about fee waivers for these tests.
Wait for College Decisions
You should receive offers of admission around April 1. Find out if you can visit any of the colleges where you were accepted--often, colleges have some funds to help students with transportation costs.
Review Financial Aid Packages
Financial aid offers come in soon after your acceptance letters. Compare these offers against one another and determine how much it will cost you to attend the different colleges to which you were accepted. Call the college's financial aid office if you have any questions or feel that the amount of aid offered to you is not adequate to meet your needs. Sometimes, colleges can adjust the amount of aid they offer; it cannot hurt to ask.
Make Your College Decision
Notify the colleges as to whether you will be accepting or rejecting their offers of admission. Do not accept more than one offer.
What to Do if You Are "Wait Listed"
If you are placed on a wait list at a school that you really want to attend, you can accept at another college and remain on the first school's list. The college will notify you during the summer as to whether they will be able to admit you from the wait list. If this happens, you must decide whether to attend the college that just accepted you or to attend the college that you accepted. Being on a college's wait list does not obligate you to attend that school if it decides to admit you.
Send Necessary Forms to the College You Will Attend
Arrange with your counselor for your final transcript to be sent to the college which you will attend. Send in any necessary forms, such as housing and medical forms. Some colleges will ask you for a deposit to guarantee your housing--in some cases, your financial aid will cover this cost.