quick guide: College Admission

completing the college application
Once you find the colleges you would like to attend, your next task is to submit the required documents for college admission. Let's review the admission steps:



  1. getting into a college of your choice
  2. making a college choice comparison
  3. application submission deadlines
  4. submit college application forms
  5. application essays
  6. college letters of recommendations
  7. college entrance exams
  8. high school transcripts
  9. extracurricular activities
  10. use "college worksheet" to track stats

Click a topic heading to toggle the display of its contents | hide all | show all

college admit: Getting Into Your College

Getting into College of Your Choice

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:

A general guide to follow:

  1. 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:
    1. 2-3 schools that you could definitely get in
    2. 4-5 schools that you could probably get in
    3. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Display Leadership
    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.

  8. Final Word
    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.

top of page

college admit: Making a College Comparison

Making the Choice

Compare your choice of schools head-to-head to make a decision on academics, collegiate major, cost and life style. Begin grouping your college choices and rank them based on your selection criteria:

Use this worksheet to keep a college comparison report:
FREE download

  • College Comparison and Profiles
    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

  • 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:


Making a College Visit

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.

Arrange campus visits with your select colleges and meet with college recruiters that visit your school.


When Should You Complete This Task:

top of page

college admit: Submission Deadlines

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 Novemer 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:

    — housing
    — final transcript
    — registrations
    — medical checks
    — other


We have a complete calendar of events

top of page

college admit: Submit Application Forms

Prepare for the College Application:

Many schools now allow for e-applications where you can submit one form to multiple schools. This will save you time from having to complete multiple application that ask for the same information.


Complete the College 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 (that include your essays, transcripts and other) and self-addressed envelopes for the letters of recommendations.


Use the COMMON application form

the COMMON application form is used by 300+ schools. This can save you time from completing multiple application forms:
see form at ww.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 those schools that are your first choice.


When Should You Complete This Task:

top of page

college admit: Application Essays

Your college admissions application will most likely require 1- 2 essays. Prepare for enough time to write and edit your essays. The essay is an important decisional parameter for college admission.

Essay resource and editing services:
use this resource to edit your essay — you will get expert advice from professionals in college essay review: EssayEdge.com

Quick view in our tool set: essay writing tips
Quick view in our tool set: essay samples


When Should You Complete This Task:

top of page

college admit: Letters of Recommendation

Need of Reference

Most college admissions application 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).


Provide the Following:

  • short autobiography and school transcript
  • list of your outside activities
  • deadline when the recommendation is due (please allow 3-4 weeks prior to the deadline)
  • stamped self-addressed envelope to the college admission office
  • Please note that the teacher or community leader that is writing the recommendation may receive several requests from other students. So get your request in early.


When Should You Complete This Task:

top of page

college admit: College Entrance Exams

Get Ready for the Exams

Register to take your college entrance exams in the Fall of your senior year. Get with your guidance counselor about preparing for the college entrance exams. Don't miss the registration deadlines.


About College Entrance Exams:

Colleges require different college entrance exams. You need to check with your college to determine which exam to take. Many students will sit for both exams to make sure they meet qualifications from all colleges.

When you register for exams, make sure test scores will be sent to your select colleges.


There are two types of exams:

  1. SAT Reasoning (formerly SAT I).
    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 (formerly SAT II). 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

  2. The ACT Assessment®
    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


When Should You Complete This Task:

  • HS Juniors:
    during Fall semester
  • HS Seniors:
    during month of october: see calendar

top of page

college admit: High School Transcripts

Public and Private Schools

arrange with your high school to forward required transcripts to select colleges. Note that everyone in your school will request likewise. So act early!


Home Schools

check with your college on what will be required since you will not be sending in an "official" transcript. Check this valuable resource: amazon bookstore

top of page

college admit: Extracurricular Activities

Having a Rounded Character

You want to show well-roundness in your application. Just the right amount of studies and outside activities. So don't think that a lot of extracurricular activities are a must. Show a balance.


How to build a well-rounded character:

FREE Download
Complete guide on discipline and character building. Has illustrations on the building blocks of success.

view our "building success" module

top of page

printer-friendly page

What's in the News
Achieving Success

It takes 3 key ingredients:

  1. planning
  2. discipline
  3. execution

Download FREE each these ingredient chapters to help achieve success in college and beyond.

jump to: "achieving success" module
For Your Technology Needs

You will need a laptop and other technical gadgets for college. Some ideas to think about:

  • laptop / desktop PC
  • software
  • printer
  • tablets
  • handheld device
  • other?

Shop our "moving-to-college" technical gadgets.

link to: technical gadgets