College Application Overview
The time has come to pull everything together and get into the college that best meets your needs and goals.
It is critical that, by now, you are developing a list of colleges that fit into three different admissions categories as they apply to you, your grades, SAT and ACT scores, and the extent to which you have prepared to meet individual college requirements and recommendations. You should choose at least one school – preferably more than one – in each of the following categories: SAFE (a school where your GPA, SAT and ACT scores, and preparatory coursework exceed the requirements for acceptance); MATCH (a school where your GPA, SAT and ACT scores and preparatory coursework generally match the requirements for acceptance; and, of course, REACH (a school where you may not meet the GPA and/or SAT/ACT score requirements for acceptance but intend to use other factors such as essays, interviews, recommendations and achievements to impress the admissions officers). You also need to decide if you will be applying “early” to any of the colleges on your list and are willing and able to abide by the requirements inherent in the “early” process.
Try to relax and realize that while the college admissions process can be stressful, countless others have gone through it before you. In fact, you may wish to ask for support from someone you know who has already been there. The more prepared and organized you are, the less likely you will be to encounter surprises and glitches and the more likely it is you will get what you want.
Please see below for a brief timeline of things you should be thinking about or doing during the summer (before) and fall of your senior year.
College Application Timeline
Things to Consider the Summer before Senior Year
- SAT/ACT PrepComplete “Resume” in Naviance
- Use the “colleges I’m thinking about” tool in Naviance to begin tracking your college application process
- Review your four-year high school education plan, making sure that you have taken or are taking all the courses required for graduation or admission to the colleges on your list – try to take more difficult courses to make your resume more attractive
- Brainstorm college essay ideas
- Schedule a meeting with your counselor
- Complete and submit “College Planning” questionnaire
- Finalize the list of colleges you intend to apply to and determine the admissions deadline for each choice…estimates suggest that the average student will apply to between four and six colleges and that some students will apply to many more.
- Utilize Naviance to track your progress in the college admissions process -First, list schools you’re considering on the “colleges I’m thinking about” page and then move targeted schools to the “colleges I’m applying to” page
- Line up all the applications you will need – many schools will accept the common application which you will only need to fill out once - and familiarize yourself with the information and documentation each school requires as well as each school’s application deadline;
- Make sure that your resume is up to date in Naviance;
- Step up (if you haven’t already done so) and assume a leadership position in one or more of your activities, organizations or sports – college admissions officers are extremely interested in seeing leadership potential;
- Request letters of recommendation from teachers and your guidance counselor. Be sure to add them on Naviance under the “colleges I’m applying to” tab;
- Begin writing college essays, especially if you will be applying “early” to any colleges;
- Register and begin preparation to re-take or take the SAT general and/or subject tests and/or the ACT – these tests should be taken at least four weeks before a college’s application deadline.
- Create an Account with Common App (commonapp.org) *Only if you plan to apply to schools that accept the Common App
- Take the October SAT if you have signed up for it, or, depending on the application deadlines at your schools, sign up for the November or December SAT if you still need to take or re-take it – if you haven’t already done so, arrange to have all SAT scores sent to colleges where you will apply
- Attend scheduled meetings with representatives from colleges that interest you and open houses by college alumnae in the area when they are announced
- Continue working on drafts of your college essays and start working on college applications – if you are applying “early” deadlines generally fall between mid-October and early November
- Submit “Permission For Release of School Information” – each transcript sent to a college, employer or scholarship agency must be requested in writing and signed by a parent if the student is under 18
- Finalize drafts of your college essays, but only after edits, rewrites and reviews by people you trust (family, friends, teachers, and counselors);
- Complete college applications and gather all information and supporting documents - make sure your counselor is aware of your final list of colleges, as well as your preferences
- Request financial aid and scholarship information from your list of colleges
- If you applied for early admission to a college, expect notification to begin this month
- Continue to file college applications if you have not already finished (watch the deadlines)