The College Process in 8 Steps

Jennifer is a 17-year old from Long Island, NY. She enjoys playing squash and the violin. Her favorite subject is English because she loves to write and read.

The college process may seem like a long and overwhelming thing, but the process is really divided up into a few factors. So, high school students and parents of high school students pay attention to the following steps.

1.     A good high school transcript: many people think that the college process starts your junior year, but it really starts when you are a freshman in high school. Colleges look at your grades from freshman year to senior year, so having good grades is vital.

2.     Standardized tests: Aim to take either the SAT’s or ACT’s your junior year, and senior fall. Be sure to prepare for these tests. Many practice books are available, and aim to take a practice test once a week in preparation for the test. Try both the SAT and ACT to see which one is better for you. Also, plan on taking these tests more than once.

3.     Looking at Schools: A smart way to get a feel of which schools you should consider are going to be based on grades and scores. Although you may have always dreamed of going to an Ivy League school, if you have all C’s…then that is not ideal. Visiting schools is important! Try to go to a tour, but if you cant looking on the website, talking to a student you may know, or consulting with a guidance counselor is key!

4.     The Common App: Most schools now are accepting the common app which you can access from www.commonapp.orgthis site is used by most schools. You fill out the application online and submit it through the common app.

5.     The Parts of the Common App: The most important parts are the personal statement, activities portion, and supplements.

Personal Statement: This essay shows an admissions counselor who you really are. Make sure you write about something you believe in, and use your tone. Also, this essay should be about YOU, do not write about your brother or cat. Also, think of something unique and always get people to read and edit it!

Activities Portion: This lets the admissions counselors know what extracurricular things you do. You don’t have to be involved in everything, they like to see activities that you have stuck with for a few years and are really passionate about.

Supplements: Some schools have separate parts of the application that apply to that school. For example, some schools require an essay that is about that school. For example: what are three reasons why you want to come to Boston University. Make sure to personalize your essay for each school. If you copy and paste, make sure to change things around. You do not want to be writing about how you love Harvard so much for the Boston University supplement.

6.     Email the representative from your area: Most admission counselors emails are on the schools website. They usually list which counselors read the application of which region. Getting in contact with your representative will show them you really care, and they are a great source of information.

7.     Read everything: Make sure before submitting an application that you followed all the instructions. Every college requires different things, and so making sure you have everything is key. Also, pay attention to deadlines!!!!

8.     Applying: There are many options of how to apply to a schools:

Regular Decision: students apply by a stated deadline (usually Jan 15). This is not binding, and you can apply regular decision to as many schools as you want.

Rolling Admission: Colleges review and decide on applications as they are submitted. Many schools start accepting early so students should not delay applying.

Early Action: Students apply by an early deadline and received a response in about a month after. This is non binding, so the student is not required to attend if accepted.

Restrictive Early Action: Students may be restricted from applying early to other colleges.

Early Decision: Admissions decision is binding: you have to go if accepted. The application deadline is early (about November) and you hear back in December. Only apply early if you know you want to go there!

Parents, College counselors, teachers, and friends are all a good source for help of questions. This process is not too overwhelming if you start early. Try to work on a lot during the summer before Senior year…this makes things a lot easier come the school year. Good luck!

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4 Responses to “The College Process in 8 Steps”

  1. brenda
    October 11, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    I would read online reviews of schools and in particular of professors that teach there. Unfortunately a good school doesn’t always mean good teachers. Indifferent hard-to-understand professors can discourage anyone from learning.

  2. Lilly
    October 17, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    For all parents who are going through the crazy and hectic time of the College Process, you should all pick up the book, “Don’t Stalk the Admissions Officer,” by Risa Lewak. I read this book with my daughter last month and it not only made our lives MUCH easier, it helped us bond and we had a bunch of laughs along the way! Her book is chock full of important tips, hints, facts and websites that will help during all the steps listed above. She has direct quotes from the mouths of Admissions Officers from all different colleges like this former Cornell admissions officer who says ” I was always more impressed with the students behind the scenes who loved what they were doing than designated leaders who were padding their resumes.” Its info like this in her book that brings ease and relief to all of those students going through these stressful times, as you are too, watching them. Visit her website and order a copy, you will be glad you did, trust me.
    Good luck with everything, parents!


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