Frequently Asked Questions About College Applications
Last updated August 21, 2023
Applying to college can be overwhelming, especially if you have no idea where to begin. But you're in the right place! We gathered a list of frequently asked questions about college applications. Here are essential things you need to know:
Q: How do I start a college application? Where do I send it?
A: If you visit the website of the school you want to attend, there will more than likely be an “Admissions” section on the main page. Once you find it, there should be an “Apply Now” section for prospective students. Once you click that, the application link will be available and you should be able to start filling it out online. Most college applications are digital, meaning, once you finish it, there should be a submit button and then you’ll be done! Most applications will allow you to save and come back to it if you need time to gather the required information. Make sure you complete the whole application before submitting it!
If you’re applying to multiple schools, we recommend using the Common Application (aka the Common App). The Common Application is accepted by more than 900 colleges and universities, so it’s very possible that your school will be on the list! Click here to learn more about the Common Application and how it works!
Q: I got accepted into more than one college. How do I choose which one to go to?
A: First and foremost, congratulations! Getting accepted into multiple schools is awesome because you have more options to consider. There is no sure way to pick. However, there are some key factors you should consider to help you make a decision:
- Academics - What majors/minors are offered at this school? Are the academic programs offered align with your interests and career goals?
- Size/Location - Would you prefer a huge university in the heart of the city, the small town scene in a rural area, or somewhere in between?
- Campus Culture - What is the overall atmosphere at the school? Does the college's values align with my own values?
- Financial Fit - What is the total cost of attendance, and what financial aid options are available? Can you pay for the college tuition and fees without taking on a lot of debt?
To learn more about these factors and how it impacts your decision, check out our article, 4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a College. Remember - you have college choice options! If you’ve considered all these factors and are still unsure, try planning a visit to each school by contacting their student affairs office. Once you get a feel for it, your decision will come.
Q: Who should write your letters of recommendation?
A: Letters of recommendation should come from those who know you the best in an academic or professional setting. Those who can speak to your work ethic, how well you perform in school, or the content of your character will make the best options. This typically includes teachers, coaches, mentors, and employers. Letters of recommendation from family members and close friends are generally discouraged. Be sure to give your person of choice enough notice to provide your letter on time. We recommend asking at least a month before your application is due.
Q: When is my application due?
A: Each college has its own due date for applications. Some of them may be the same, however, the only way to know for sure is to go to the school’s website in the admissions section and find out. Generally, there are four college application deadlines you should be aware of:
- Early action - This is a period of time (usually in October or November) where you can submit an application and be considered for admission before everyone else. Early admission is great because if you get accepted, you’re guaranteed a spot - but don’t have to commit to the school if you change your mind later.
- Early decision - Early decision is similar to early admission, in that you can apply before most people. However, with early decision you must commit to the school you are accepted to. This means that you are not allowed to change your mind and attend a different school if you get another offer, so choose wisely. Most schools have a maximum amount of students they can accept each year, so the earlier you apply, the better!
- Regular decision - A majority of students apply to college under regular decision deadlines, which is usually in January or February of your senior year in high school.
- Rolling admission - When a college accepts applications on rolling admission, that means there is no deadline to apply. Rolling admission is a great option for students who might want to delay their college start time by a quarter or semester and focus on work or family.
Q: What is a scholarship and how do I get one?
A: A scholarship is a grant or payment made toward your education through a sponsor - think of it as free money for college. Scholarships are great because you don’t have to pay them back, unlike student loans - which will require you to repay them after graduating. There are thousands of scholarships available on the web (start your search here) - you just have to find them. Each scholarship has its own requirements so you’ll need to check what they are before you apply. Check out our scholarship lists to start your search!
Q: How do I stand out in my personal or college essay?
A: In personal essays, you want to present your truest and most authentic self. It’s clear you want to attend the school, but why should the school admit you? That is the question you’ll need to answer in your personal essay, no matter which prompt you select. What in your life has prepared you to be successful at that college? What would you add to the student body? Colleges get thousands of applications every year. Of all the students who apply, what makes you special? Before you start writing, check out a list of the most common college essay topics here, and be sure to submit your essay to us for free review and feedback when you're done!
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