How To Apply For College In 5 Steps

How To Apply For College In 5 Steps
Beth Dumbauld

Here's how to apply for college in 5 steps. They are listed below, and we'll go over each one in greater detail. These steps are:

  • Completing the application
  • Creating your admissions essay
  • Compiling supplemental materials
  • Participating in the admissions interview
  • Getting the acceptance letter

How To Apply for College - Complete Your Application

It’s time to start your college applications once you’ve taken the necessary exams and researched which colleges you want to attend. There are a few questions you might have, like what information do you need and what is the best way to answer some of the difficult questions the college or university may ask? Keep reading to learn what the college application process entails.

Before You Apply

First things first, make sure you gather all of your materials. Colleges want to know all about you so that they can understand what kind of student and person you are. Here’s what you’ll need to start.

  • SAT or ACT test scores
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Academic Transcripts
  • Previously earned college credit

Each item that is required to complete your application involves you getting in contact with people in your high school, at your work, or community. So, don’t wait - ask your potential reference to write letters ahead of time and request your transcripts as soon as possible. Also, if you do have existing college credit – or need to complete prerequisites -- make sure you understand the credit transfer polices and processes you need to follow at the school you are interested in attending.

Completing the Application

Most of the information that colleges look for is basic. But answering simple questions like, “what is your name”, are the key to your acceptance into the institution. You won’t just be expected to answer questions about yourself, but also your family, background and your plans for the future.

To assure your application’s accuracy, make sure you ask your immediate family about their education history. This is vital information because it gives colleges an idea about your academic support system. Finally, you’ll need to list your accomplishments and activities. This is also an important part of your application.

Accomplishments are more common than you may think. Receiving small awards and even scholarships count as accomplishments. Here are some examples of other accomplishments you can list on your college application.

  • Class ranking (ex: top 20% of your class)
  • Graduating with honors (Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Cum Laude).
  • Holding an executive role in a school organization
  • Receiving Varsity of Jr. Varsity letters
  • Beating one of your school’s athletic records

Your list of accomplishments and you activities work hand in hand. In fact, many of the accomplishments you think of will be a result of some activities you’ve been apart of. So, be sure not to leave anything out.

What can be classified as an activity? Well, anything that you are apart of in school or your community is considered an extracurricular activity. Here are some examples:

  • athletics
  • school clubs (ex: drama, student government, newspaper, etc.)
  • community memberships ( ex: Girl/Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity)
  • volunteer work
  • church or other religious community involvement
  • competitions
  • hobbies (sewing, photography, weaving)
  • military (ex: Junior ROTC)

Once you’ve given the college all the important information they need to know about you, it’s time to seal the deal with a fascinating college admission essay.

Write Your College Admissions Essay

A college admissions essay or personal statement is required by all colleges and universities as a way to understand you a bit more. Personal statements are usually 150 words long, but for regular essays, colleges may require up to 650 words. This may seem like a large assignment, but you should look at it as an opportunity.

Although some colleges have a particular topic they want you to discuss in your essay, most do not. This means that you choose a topic that means something to you, and allows your personality to shine through. After all, that’s what colleges are looking for when they assign essay and personal statements. But, to ensure that your college essay helps your application instead of hurting it.

Tips On Submitting Supplemental Materials

Depending on what program you are applying to, you may be required to submit supplementary materials. These materials show the college or university that you already have some of the skills needed to succeed in the career you seek to study.

A portfolio of art or writing samples is an example of supplementary materials. But each college is different, so be sure to ask the college you’re applying to what materials are required.

These materials should boost your application, but in some cases, supplementary materials can cause the college admissions board to reject your application. To make sure that doesn’t happen, send only your most exceptional work samples.

Keep in mind that whatever you submit, you will not get back. So, make sure you keep copies of your submission.

Doing Well On The Admissions Interview

Participating in a college interview isn't much different than a job interview. The key to a successful admission interview is to be prepared! Research the college by visiting their website. There you should read up on the college’s history and mission, and learn about the outstanding achievements that school is known for.

To truly be prepared, however, you have to have answers to all of the interviewer's questions. You won’t know them beforehand, but you can prepare for them by:

  • Knowing why you want to attend that college or university
  • Knowing why you chose the program you applied to

Other than that, your success will rely on first impressions. So, you should get a good night’s sleep beforehand, arrive at your interview early, wear professional attire, listen well during the interview and have a list of questions that you have for your interviewer about the school and its many activities.

Congratulations - You've Gotten Your Acceptance Letter!

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off - you've been accepted! But before you celebrate, there's still some work to do:

  • Don't forget to write back and accept their admission offer.
  • More paperwork to be done - student housing, meal plans on campus, etc.

There’s much that goes into the college applications process and mining for simple details, in the end, can help your chances a lot. Your goal is to impress the admission office by showing who you are and what you can bring to their college or university. Do each step carefully and follow the college’s procedures and guidelines

Earn college credits prior to applying to the 4-year college of your dreams by enrolling in one of StraighterLine’s fully accredited course. Enroll here!

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