It is college application season and as a senior I am here to give all the tips and advice I did not receive when I was applying to colleges. Honestly, I could write a whole opinion article about how I literally had to Google everything that pertained to applying to colleges, but that’s not the purpose of this article, the purpose is to tell you the deep hidden secrets of college applications. Let’s get started!
First off, if you don’t know what the Common App is, it is basically the most important website you will use for your entire college application process. (It’s free, don’t worry.) The Common App, or Common Application if you want to be technical, is pretty much what it sounds like, it’s a website where you can apply to multiple colleges/universities at the same time. All you have to do is look up where you want to apply (Note: Not all colleges/universities use the common app for their application process) then add them to “my colleges.” For all applications you have to fill out information about you, your family, extra curriculars, etc., but with the Common App you only have to fill out all that information once. There is also a common essay that you will have to write that will be sent to each of the colleges as well.
Now here’s another important tip, look at all the places you want to apply to and write down the application due dates. Try to narrow the list of colleges you’re applying to about five or so because these applications take a lot of time and cost money ($30-$90 each). Some colleges have a fee waiver/reduction for people who do early application, which for most colleges was Nov. 1. It is important to note the difference between early action and early decision. Generally speaking, early action is when you apply early, but are not committed to going to that specific university if you are accepted. This means you are allowed to apply to multiple colleges/universities for early application. The early decision period, is when you apply to a college early and are obligated to go there if you are accepted. Which means if you plan on applying early action it should be your first choice because you cannot apply for early action to multiple colleges.
After you’ve organized when your application deadlines are, you want to look if there are any attachments needed for each individual college/university you are applying to. These attachments will consist of things such as: official transcript sent from your counselor, teacher recommendation letters, SAT/ACT scores, your resume, if you are applying to a specific major/program, a portfolio of previous projects/artwork, etc. The earlier you know what is needed, the more likely you will be able to turn in you application before the deadline with all requirements completed.
Free tips for writing college application essays (& free SAT/ACT prep)