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Completing Your College Applications

Test scores, transcripts, recommendations, interviews and essays are all components of the all-important application package. Most schools allow you to create a private profile on their admissions web site. Prior to submitting your application for review, you can return to the school’s admissions portal (as many times as you like) to fill out the application form, upload essays, etc. Many schools even provide a handy checklist to help you monitor each step in the application process.

These are the basic components of the application package:

  •  Application Form
    •  Fill it out carefully and thoroughly. Take time to proofread. Make sure all information is correct.
    •  Be succinct yet descriptive with your activities (e.g. Marching Band (9, 10, 11) Percussion section leader (10)) and honors.
  •  Test Scores
    • Most colleges require a copy of your scores from the SATor ACT. Some also require SAT Subject Tests.
    •  Allow sufficient time for your requests to be processed so that the schools will receive them before the deadline.
  •  Recommendations
    •  Many schools require 2 or 3 recommendations from high school teachers, coaches, guidance counselors or others who know you in an academic, extra-curricular or leadership capacity.
    •  Approach potential letter-writers 5 to 8 weeks (or earlier) before the recommendation due-date.
    •  If recommendations are to be mailed (many are completed online), be sure to provide stamped envelopes properly addressed to your colleges along with a master list of schools and dates that the recommendations are due.
    •  Track deadlines and be sure to follow-up. Teachers and counselors are extremely busy, especially toward the end of fall semester.
    •  For helpful information and advice, check out the InlikeMe commentary Recommendations for Recommendations
  •  Transcripts
    •  All colleges will require an official copy of your academic transcript.
    •  Most colleges will request that it is sent directly from your school. 
    •  Leave plenty of time for your high school registrar to process your request.
    •  Your school may charge a processing fee.
    •  Some colleges will also require a seventh semester (Senior Fall) grade report.
    •  The college you choose to attend will require a final transcript.
  •  Interviews
    •  Some colleges will require or recommend an interview.
    • Schedule your interviews well in advance of the deadline.
    •  For helpful information and advice, check out the InlikeMe commentary Acing the Interview
  •  College Essays
    •  Many colleges require application essays.
    •  Essays are generally the most time-consuming and difficult part of the application.
    •  Application essays are a prime opportunity to stand out with well-composed essays.
    •  Colleges look for articulate, well-written, thoughtful essays providing insight into your personality, values, and goals.
    •  For helpful information and advice, check out the InlikeMe commentary Writing an Effective Application Essay
  •  Application Fee
    •  Most colleges won’t review your application without your payment or a fee waiver.

Still need help with College Applications & Essays?  Consider these guidebooks:

Some additional thoughts — Technology is great BUT even the best systems have occasional glitches. Print out a hard copy of your application for your records! And remember to follow-up to make sure your applications, transcripts, interview reports and recommendations have been received.

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