Introduction: Completing College Application
HS seniors college admittance guide
Once you find the colleges you would like to attend, your next task is to submit the required documents for college admission.
There are only a few admissions slots compared to the number of application received. So prepare your application submission carefully.
A good site to review is myfootpath.com. It provides the inside intelligence on how each college's admission system works: myfootpath.com
>When You Should Complete These Tasks
A General Guide to Follow
Hedge Your Bets
Submit your several applications to an assembled list of colleges or trade schools you'd like to attend.
There are three categories of schools you should submit your application to:
- 2-3 schools that you could definitely get in
- 4-5 schools that you could probably get in
- 7-8 schools that you would like to get in
You should budget on how much you can afford for application submission. You may need to narrow your search to 3-3-3.
Submit Your Application On-Time
Note the application deadlines for all of your schools.
- Early application submission is usually November 1.
- General application submission may be in January or February.
Get your complete application in early.
Show Strong Academic Achievements
The stronger your academics, the better your chances for admission.
If this area is weak, try to make it up by college admittance test scores, strong essays, and a demonstration of outside leadership.
Show Strong Non-Academic Achievements
Athletic, music, art, or other non-academic disciplines can be a plus for many college admissions. It can give you an advantage when your application is compared with a similar application of academic achievement.
Study for the Standardized Tests
It is impossible to go back in time to improve your academic scores. But you can study hard to achieve high college admittance test scores.
An above-average test score is NOT an automated ticket to admission. But it does add points in your favor with many colleges. Submitting your application with high test scores, good essays and recommendations, and a fair academic record can get you in many colleges.
Submit Good Essays and Recommendations
Here is an opportunity to show your creativeness and leadership skills by writing strong essays and having good recommendations from leaders in your school and community.
We recommend that your essays get reviewed by a professional writer prior to submission. Submitting an essay that is structurally weak and grammatically incorrect can destroy your chances of being admitted.
Finally, colleges admit applicants who display leadership skills from their participation in clubs, communities, church groups, and other extracurricular activities. Being just a "member" of a club does not carry as much weight as compared with an applicant who displayed leadership capabilities.
Note that competition for admission can be fierce for the top schools. It helps to have good academics, high test scores, strong essays, and good recommendations.
Your application is one of thousands that must be reviewed by the college's admissions staff. Submit the best application that you can.
Making a College Comparison
HS seniors college admittance guide
Compare your choice of schools head-to-head and take a virtual tour of the campus. Begin grouping your college choices and rank them based on your selection criteria.
Use this worksheet to keep a college comparison report:
- College Comparison
compare colleges by region and cost:
you can profile two or more colleges on cost, student size, teacher ratio, and other criteria:
- College Rankings
view college rankings by school criteria and other rankings
view rankings in our tool set
- Take a Virtual Tour
this is good place to start prior to making an actual visit. See online videos of school campus and other virtual places:
You should plan to make a college visit before submitting your application.
The cost to attend college can be high for many schools. So make sure this is the right school for you. Start to arrange campus visits with your select colleges and meet with college recruiters that visit your school.
Tips When Visiting a Campus
Take notes and pictures when visiting a campus. This will help you make a comparison when it comes time to make a final decision:
- Plan to visit the college for a full day.
Attend when the school is in session, if possible.
- Arrange an interview with the admission office
or other "campus visit" groups
- Meet with the financial aid office
to get all related financial aid information offered by that school
- When doing a visit,
check out the library, student unions, sporting facilities, and academic centers. Walk the campus to familiarize yourself with the layout.
- Review housing facilities and dormitories
to determine whether to live on-campus or off-campus housing. Note the college rules for housing. Some colleges require first-time Freshmen to live in dormitories.
- Schedule time to speak with students and faculty. Visit the clubs and societies that are part of the campus life. Check campus rules, safety programs, and facilities that maintain the safety of the campus.
- Drive around the surrounding
to familiarize yourself with restaurants, theaters, rec areas, job opportunities, etc.
Note Submission Deadlines
HS seniors college admittance guide
Early Admission: deadlines are in October - November
Regular Admissions: deadlines are in early January - February
Submit all required documents at least two weeks before the deadline. The earlier the better.
Senior Year: August-September
- Select the colleges or schools that you desire to attend.
- Obtain the applications from the school. You can easily get the application online or through your school counselor.
- Decide who you will ask to write your recommendations. Give this person plenty of time (at least 2-3 weeks prior to your request date).
- Keep a track of important dates. You don't want to miss a deadline.
Senior Year: September-October
- Begin working on your essays.
- Collect your letters of recommendations. Be sure to formally thank your recommender.
- Complete the application in preparation for submission (early submission dates are usually November 1 for most schools).
- Make plenty of copies of your essays, letters of recommendations and application.
- Complete applications for early and regular admissions. Many of these submissions can be made online.
- Early submissions are usually due by November 01. Regular submissions are usually in January and February. Check your college for submission dates.
- Start looking for housing during this time. If you school requires first-time student to live in approved housing, start making arrangements. The best units can go fast.
- Get your school transcripts sent to your intended schools. See your guidance counselor.
- Your school should be sending out acceptance letters. If you haven't heard from your school, contact them to make sure your application is complete (they may be waiting for a transcript or other item).
- Finalize your admissions requirements:
— final transcript
— medical checks
Prepare the College Application
HS seniors college admittance guide
You need to start your college application to meet submission deadlines:
- Early Admission:
deadlines are in early November
- Regular Admission:
deadlines are in January-February.
What's needed this month:
- Request an application form from each of your colleges.
- Your college admissions application will most likely require 1- 2 essays. Use the weekends to write and edit your essays.
- Most college admissions require 1-2 recommendations from teachers and/or community leaders. Select who should write your recommendation.
- Study for your college entrance exams if you are taking them this fall. Colleges require different college entrance exams. You need to check with your college to determine which exam to take.
- Double check your transcripts when you start your senior year. You will need to forward these transcripts to colleges for admission review.
- Take a swim, tennis, karate or other class over the fall semester (either with your school or community group). You want to show well-roundness in your application.
Key Elements of the Application
Request an application form from each of your colleges. You can find it online or request it from the school.
The package will include the application form, submission requirements (essays, transcripts and other) and self-addressed envelopes for the letters of recommendations.
Many schools use the COMMON application form for application submission. Using the COMMON application form saves you time from completing multiple application forms:
see form at commonapp.org
You can save the COMMON application form online until you are ready to submit it electronically to participating schools
Or get the application from your school — link to your college to submit your application form online or to request a application packet:
use our college search directory for your school's web site
Early Decision Note:
you need to decide if you are going to do early admission.
If so, you will need to have your application completed and ready to submit between October and November of your senior year.
- The advantage of early decision is that you will know whether you have been accepted by early January.
- The disadvantage of early decision is that you may be legally bound to attend that school if you are accepted.
So decide on early decisions for schools that are your first choice.
Your college admissions application will most likely require 1- 2 essays. Use the weekends to write and edit your essays.
Note that the essay is an important decisional parameter for college admission. So take this seriously.
Essay resource and editing services:
use this resource to edit your essay — you will expert advice from professionals who are experts in college essay review
Quick view: essay writing tips and samples
Most college admissions require 1-2 recommendations from teachers and/or community leaders.
Select who should write your recommendation. Give the person plenty of time (about 3-4 weeks prior to your deadline).
Also provide them a short autobiography, a list of your outside activities, school transcript and a self-addressed envelope as instructed by your college.
Please note that the teacher works with hundreds of students. So get your request in early.
Double check your transcripts when you start your senior year. You will need to forward these transcripts to colleges for admission review.
Make sure you have the following:
- all grades are posted correctly
- all required courses for graduation are listed
- all required courses for college admittance are listed
It is important that these transcripts are correct and up-to-date. If not, meet with school administration to repair any errors.
Take a swim, tennis, karate or other class over the fall semester (either with your school or community group). You want to show well-roundness in your application.
Just the right amount of studies (with good grades) and outside activities. Don't think that a lot of extracurricular activities are a must. You just need to show a balance.
How to build a well-rounded character?
Complete guide on discipline and character building. Has illustrations on the building blocks of success.
view our "building success" module
Take College Exams
HS seniors college admittance guide
Discuss with your guidance counselor about the following college exams:
- Advance Placement Exams:
you should consider taking Advanced Placement Exams or CLEP tests in your Junior and Senior years. This allows you to test out of some college courses that can save you time and money.
The exams are administered each year in the Spring with some preparation required prior to the exam. Check with your school for exam administration, enrollment and information.
- College Entrance Exams:
almost all colleges and some trade programs require a college entrance exam. These exams measure your ability to understand college-level materials.
Most colleges require the SAT college exam; some require the ACT Assessment exam. A few college will require both exams. So check with your college which exam will be required.
More About These Exams
Information about the advanced placement program:
The collegeboard administers the AP exams. This site has all the information you need including test programs and dates:
visit collegeboard.com for more information
View our advanced placement prep/study guides:
includes prep planning books and other reading materials that can help you with these exams: college prep area
College Entrance Exams:
Almost all colleges and some trade programs require a college entrance exam. These exams measure your ability to understand college-level materials. Most colleges require the SAT college exam; some require the ACT Assessment exam. A few college will require both exams. So check with your college which exam will be required.
You will take these exams in your junior year with a possible retake in your senior year. You must take the exams in the Fall so that your scores can be sent to your schools.
Get some practice with the college entrance "preparation" exams
It will help on the day of the real exam.
Why take college prep exams:
- to help prepare for the real test. You will be familiar with the type of questions being asked
- to help you take tests under time lines. It is important that you work quickly so that you can complete the entire test.
- to view your strengths and weaknesses for college study. You can then focus on areas to improve your skills.
- to view how your performance compares with other students who are applying for college
About the SAT Tests
The SAT Reasoning Test is a three-hour test that measures a student's ability to reason problems instead of general knowledge. It has three sections: writing, critical reading, and math. Most of the questions are multiple-choice.
SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests measure the student's knowledge in specific subjects: English, mathematics, history, science, and languages. SAT Subject Tests are primarily multiple-choice, and each lasts one hour.
more information: collegeboard.org
Information about the PSAT (practice exams):
the PSAT is the test prep exam for the SAT tests. The PSAT is usually offered in October and November through your school. Check with your school counselor for dates.
more information: see collegeboard.org for information
About the ACT Tests
The ACT Assessment® is used by some colleges. The exam has four multiple-choice tests: English, reading, mathematics, and science reasoning.
more information: actstudent.org
ACT test preparation:
some colleges use the ACT test. You need to check your college to determine which test they use for admittance. Many students will take both the SAT and ACT so that they have the right exams for the college of their choice
more information: actstudent.org about ACT exams
Begin Side Navigation
- Starting: visit colleges
- September: select colleges
- October: submit application
- November: analyze costs
- December: collect aid info
- January: file fafsa form
- February: process SAR
- March: review aid steps
- April: analyze award letter
- May: finalize selection
- June: arrange for moving
- July-August: get ready
Make It Happen!
By building the discipline in four distinct character traits.
Making the Move!
What do you need when you move to college?
1) bed sheets 2) toothbrush3) cooling fan4) medicine box5) hand vac6) plus so much more
Grab our college moving checklist to help you pack for the big move
Save on Textbooks
The cost of college textbooks can run as high as $800-$1,000 or more per semester. So shop around for:
1) new textbooks 2) used textbooks3) rental textbooks
Shop and compare best deals from multiple online merchants.
So what kind of jobs are availabe in your study at college?
Let's take a look to see if opportunities in your field are available and what skills sets you need:
Achieving success in life requires 3 key ingredients:
1) planning 2) discipline3) execution
Open our success module for FREE guides on these key success points.
How can we help with college planning?
1) planning forms 2) manage money tips3) job search4) financial guides5) calculators6) plus so much more
Jump over to our tool for college planning and financial decision making.