As a high school senior, you may be getting ready to start applying to various colleges. Some admission deadlines are coming up quickly, so you need to be prepared. There are several ways to apply to college, so it is important to check the website for colleges you are interested in, or ask the admissions office, to find out which format they use. College application options include:
• Direct to the College: Some colleges want you to apply directly to them, and have their own admission requirements. Carefully study their website to make sure you do not omit anything. Students in certain disciplines may be required to prepare portfolios or videos of their work. Don’t wait until the last minute to pull all of this together or to request any letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches, advisors, employers, and community organizations.
• The Common Application: The Common Application is a non-profit membership organization that serves students, member institutions, and secondary schools by providing applications that students can submit to any of the 549 schools that currently use their services. There were some glitches last year with the online application process, which caused many problems for students. The organization has also been in flux this year as the CEO has been replaced, and they have recently announced that they are eliminating the requirement that colleges which subscribe to their service conduct holistic admissions processes. This process required colleges to review candidates in ways that went beyond numbers, most typically with essays. But this change doesn’t mean that you should place any less emphasis on your essays. For the colleges that do use them, you need to write essays in a way that will make your application stand out. Even if your colleges do not require essays, it is important to pay attention to your writing skills on all areas of the Common App. Make sure you write about your activities in a way that best shows off your capabilities. Also check to see if your college has any supplemental requirements that you need to provide.
• The Universal College Application: This is a relatively new for-profit organization which sprang up in competition to the Common App, partly in response to some of their ongoing technological issues. Students applying as incoming freshman, as well as transfers for the fall of 2015, can now use the Universal College Application. It consists of five main data entry pages, which students must complete to submit their applications online. This application option currently serves over forty colleges including such top institutions as Brandeis University, University of Chicago, Colgate University, Cornell University, Duke University, Emerson College, Harvard College, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, Rice University, Tulane University, and Vanderbilt University.
Next Step: College Financial Aid
A big part of the college application process is securing the maximum amount of college financial aid available. For more information on how you can afford college, contact College Financial Aid Advisors (CFAA) or visit my About.com website, Paying for College.