Posted By

Morgan Hart's picture

Ubind Now

Jun 08 2013
The college application process - and why you should start planning for yours now

So you find yourself in the midst of your very last summer as a high school student. Your senior year is around the corner but for now - you just want to enjoy the time off and make every second count with your friends at the beach. Sound familiar?

The summer before your senior year is certainly a time to cherish - some of your best memories will be made during this time and throughout the upcoming year - so definitely take the time to enjoy it. But for those of you planning to go to college next fall (and let's face it, most high school seniors these days don't see it as an option), the dreaded application process is creeping around the corner as well - and it may be creeping faster than you think!

Applying to college can seem intimidating at first and can be quite tedious if you wait until the last minute to begin. The best way to successfully complete the application process and receive acceptance to the school of your choice is to start preparing now. To make this a little easier, we've compiled an example list of steps (additional or different steps may be required for application to the schools on your list - be sure to check and check again to make sure you know what you are responsible for) to a successful college application process for you to reference as you go. 

1.     Make a list of your top college choices and narrow it down. An important thing to consider outside of where your older brother went to college or where your friends plan to go is this: what is the best fit for you? Do some research - most colleges include a description of campus life on its website. Consider dorm life, extracurricular activities, clubs and organizations or intramural sports - the top business school in the state could be a great option but does it fit you? For most of you, this will be your home away from home for the next four years. Your best chance at success will likely be in an environment you are most happy in. 

2.     Request your transcripts. Most colleges require applicants to submit an "official" transcript meaning it must be mailed from your high school (unopened) directly to the college. This is important information to have because many colleges will deem your transcript "unofficial" if you try to mail it yourself. To request your transcript, speak to your high school registrar or guidance counselor and arrange for a copy of your transcript to be sent to the colleges of your choice. The process can take up to 5 weeks to complete, so be sure to check deadlines for each college and plan accordingly. 

3.     Begin gathering recommendation letters. Identify a handful of adults who know you best - teachers, employers, community or church leaders, coaches - anyone who can vouch for your character, strengths and any accomplishments a college would deem impressive. Avoid asking family members for recommendation letters - these are considered less credible for a college application. Be sure to give rec writers a reasonable amount of time to develop a thoughtful, relevant letter on your behalf. Most colleges require rec letters to be submitted in January of your senior year so it is a good idea to begin asking for letters in November. 

4.     If you apply to multiple colleges, there is a chance you will be granted acceptance to more than one and be forced to pick one over another. At this point (if you haven't already), you will want to arrange campus visits to each prospective school. This will give you a better idea of what campus life is like and will likely help you make a final decision. 

The key to a successful college application process is to get organized and stay organized. Applying to college requires a number of potential aspects including those listed above as well as test scores, application essays and financial aid planning. The last thing you want to do is have your materials gathered and ready to submit only to find out the deadline for application has passed. It is extremely important to know these deadline dates - mark them in your planner or in your smart phone's calendar - and plan your process accordingly. 

The college application process involves many aspects - some of which require a lot of planning and time. Starting now can't guarantee your acceptance, but it can ensure no missed opportunities and greaten your chances of getting into the college of your choice. 

For a few extra tips about college admission, check out the links below: 

5 things you need to know about college admission

Finding your college fit

Organizing your college application process

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