As most high school seniors are well aware, there are two crucial elements of applying to college – the actual admission application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students hoping to score financial aid for 2020-21 have been lining up since October 1 to file a FAFSA. I previously focused on the three types of financial aid deadlines, so it’s time to take a look at the three types of college applications:
• The Common App: More than 700 colleges accept the Common App for admissions consideration.
• The Coalition Application: MyCoalition is a set of free online college planning tools that helps students learn about, prepare for, and apply to college. It includes an application for over 130 member schools, collaboration space, and digital storage locker.
• Individual College Application: Some colleges prefer using their own application form, but some may also use the Common App, and require supplemental information. Read the admission instructions carefully on each college website to make sure you are following the proper procedure.
No matter what type of application you are submitting, here are some tips to completing it correctly:
• Do a quick scan: Take a look at the entire application to see what is required. While some sections are pretty straight-forward, you can get an idea of where you want to include different points to paint the best picture of yourself.
• The essay isn’t the only writing opportunity: Some questions allow you a little more flexibility to present your background information; you can then use the essay to show your deeper, creative or intellectual side. Look at your list of accomplishments and activities, and carefully consider how you can creatively intersperse them throughout the application.
• Look for additional requirements: Depending on your intended field of study, you may be asked to submit additional items such as a video or a portfolio. Performing arts students may need to audition for the school. Know all of the requirements so you can prepare and complete them before the deadline. Even if something is “optional,” you should still consider submitting it.
• Always review: After you think you are done, leave the application for a day and then take a second look at it with fresh eyes. Ask yourself if it really demonstrates who you are, or if it just looks like every other high school senior applying to college. You should also have a non-judgmental third party perform a quick review for content and typos before clicking on the submit button.
• Check the checklist: Even if you have the perfect application, it is not considered complete until the college has received everything it needs to make an acceptance determination. In addition to the actual application and supplemental information, they need to review your transcripts, test scores, and recommendation letters. Most colleges will have a personal application page which lists what they have received. If something is missing, you still have some work to do.