How to Apply to College: Steps in the Application Process

The college application process can be complicated. Understanding the multiple components can help increase the chances of admission.

The college admission process has become more competitive, but the actual application process has virtually stayed the same. This process can be simple; however, many components need to be addressed.

The Actual Application

Each college requires a form, or application, to be submitted. The application can vary from a simple one-page form to an elaborate ten-page in-depth form. Usually, community and technical colleges require information about general information, including name, address, phone number, and interested major.

Highly selective colleges have applications that include the same information and additional aspects such as questions for essay writers, activities and volunteer listings, senior year class schedules, and work experience. Some may even require recommendations.

Applications are available in paper form or electronic form also called online applications. Online applications are easier for colleges to process, but the colleges will accept either paper or electronic applications. These can be accessed on the college’s website under “Admissions.” Applicants can also find the forms by using the search box on the college’s website. 

Application Fees

In addition to an application, colleges usually require a processing fee to review the applications. Fees can range from $20 to $80 depending on the college. Some colleges may waive the application fee if the applicant uses the online application.

High School Transcript

Colleges require a high school transcript for admission. The college will usually require the transcript twice, and sometimes up to three times, during the senior year. The first time the transcript is submitted is during the initial application submission. The college wants to review the types of courses the student has taken, the level of rigor of the courses, and finally, the grades received in those courses.

Transcripts need to be official; therefore, a photocopy is not permitted. Official transcripts can only be acquired from the high school, usually in the guidance office or through a registrar. These transcripts will have a stamp or seal certifying that the document is official. Be aware that high schools may charge a fee to send the transcript.

SAT and ACT Score Reports

Many four-year colleges and universities will require applicants to take and submit the SAT or ACT scores. Scores need to be sent directly from the SAT or ACT testing center. As with the high school transcripts, the score reports need to be official. Students must contact the testing facility to order the scores to be sent to the college.

Additional Admission Supplements

Depending on the college, other components may be required by the college for admission. Some examples include a high school profile, a senior full-year schedule, interviews, and sometimes a pastor’s or minister’s evaluation.

Every college application may look different depending on the college, but most of the information required is the same. The actual application will state the components required to apply. Complete applications will be reviewed for admission consideration, while incomplete applications will not be reviewed. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all components are submitted for review. Two to three weeks after all of the items have been submitted for review, the applicant should contact the college. Ask the college admission counselor if they have received all the application items.

The college application process involves more than just the application form. College admission counselors need to review multiple forms of information. Once they have received all the needed documents, they can properly assess admission consideration.

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Bhavna Tank
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