The process of applying to colleges can be quite complex, so knowing what to do, The College Application Checklist what you will need, and when to complete your applications is essential to a less stressful experience. Follow the US college application deadlines and start thinking about applying for college the summer before junior year.
A college application usually includes personal information, essays, transcripts, The College Application Checklist standardized test scores, and recommendation letters. If you want to improve your performance before applying, The College Application Checklist consider one-on-one coaching sessions to overcome any obstacles about specific topics. This can help you have more confidence when applying to different colleges.
Check out the following guide to stay on track throughout the college application process.
Most students usually apply to several different schools. You can begin by compiling a college list the summer before junior year. Research schools based on their academic programs, clubs and activities, financial aid packages, and geographical location. Make your final list by the second semester of junior year, and see whether you need extra classes from online tutors to maximize your options.
Make sure you do on-campus or virtual visits to prospective schools and attend virtual or in-person college fairs to talk with alumni and current students before applying in the fall. Consider places where you feel most happy learning and living based on the academic programs, geographical location, and school and class sizes.
Apply for financial aid
If you want to receive financial aid, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FADSA), or scholarships from schools, charitable foundations, or corporations. You can file a FAFSA as early as October 1 to determine your eligibility for grants, loans, and work-study. International students, however, should check with the US Department of Education for financial aid opportunities.
Keep in mind that the earlier you submit this application, the earlier schools will be able to give you an idea of the financial aid package. Note that if you’re applying to a highly selective school, you’ll need to fill out the CSS Profile via the College Board to provide more information about your family’s finances. However, CSS Profile is not free, so make sure you check your eligibility and talk to the school counselor.
Take standardized tests
Take your standardized tests in your junior year to have sufficient time to prepare for them and retake them if necessary. You can register for the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test) in your sophomore year or the fall of your junior year. Take the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) or ACT (American College Test) in the spring of your junior year to have enough time to retake the exam in your senior year if needed.
Don’t forget to register for the SAT or ACT at least a month before your exam date to avoid late registration fees. In addition to your SAT and ACT scores, you will be requested to submit official score reports, which must be sent directly from the ACT to the college or the College Board (SAT). Note that you can select colleges to receive the scores while registering to take the exams. If applicable, you can take an AP (Advanced Placement) exam in May of your sophomore, junior, and senior years. In case you score a 4 or 5 on your AP exam, you can earn college credit for certain first-year courses.
Write college application essays
College essays allow personalizing your application. Colleges usually look for an essay that differentiates you from other applicants and demonstrates your positive traits. A good time for students to begin brainstorming topics and drafting essays is the summer before senior year when homework and extracurricular activities are not taking up too much time and mental energy.
Starting early will also give you plenty of time to work through multiple drafts before college application deadlines. You can go online to review essay requirements for the colleges you want to apply to, such as essay topics and word limits. Keep in mind that some colleges ask their applicants to submit one or more additional writing samples, known as supplemental essays, in addition to the main essay.
Complete your college application
Once you’ve done everything else, you can start creating accounts and filling in personal information on college application portals before you start senior year. You can start collecting and requesting official documents and recommendation letters at least 3 to 4 weeks before the deadline. Make sure you start a list of your awards, extracurricular, and leadership experience in your sophomore year. Upload your essays, and send your high school transcripts, and test scores.
Note that many colleges require a few letters of recommendation from a teacher, coach, or counselor who knows you well. Once you’ve completed a portion of the online application, you can write your resume if your college requires it. Even if you don’t have much or any work experience, you can highlight your educational career. Review your application before submitting it to see whether all necessary materials are included.
Applying to colleges requires extra time to make sure you aren’t missing any additional pieces. Invest in one-on-one sessions with an online tutor to help you enrich your portfolio before applying, and make sure you follow all the requirements of your desired college. Submit your application in its entirety a day or two before the deadline in case the application server crashes. Good luck!
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