Information and Forms for College Applications
Almost all colleges have an online application option. Some, when you go on in August, will have a link called Apply Now! It is a software package that colleges have bought into that allows you the student to create a User Name and Password. You will then fill out your profile. Some colleges will direct you to The Common Application, and others will direct you to The Universal Application.
I strongly suggest and urge all of you to either put a sticky note, or send an email, or keep a little notebook and a folder of all your college application forms, data, and information handy! Also it is not a bad idea to email the information to yourself, and also copy a parent or guardian with the information. Try to make your usernames and passwords similar on all applications, if you can. If not, be sure to write them down and keep a copy of everything.
I have been doing this process for decades, and each year there are scrambles because of getting locked out at deadline time, because the student forgot the password or username, sent a forgot request, then tried to change it and log back in, etc….I like my clients to submit a few days before deadline because come deadline time, there are traffic jams on the sites! YES! People have been locked out and unable to submit for hours. I had a father, a couple of years ago, set his alarm for 3:30 in the morning, so he could submit for his daughter as she was being locked out every afternoon from working on her applications. She had an athletics challenge that kept her delaying until the last minute! Don’t get stuck! Write everything down or at least email it to yourself.
Which Colleges do you not get to do the Common Application or Universal Application? Actually quite a few. Considering there are over 2000 colleges and universities in the United States and the Common App has approximately 800 participants, there are clearly many that utilize their own application. Most large state universities and colleges, especially those with many campuses, have their own system. They typically buy the Apply Now software, and if you have filled out a username and password on that software, sometimes, not always, it will stay for a couple of the colleges.
For those who cannot do the online version, almost all colleges do have the option to download a .PDF file to fill out. If you have a subscription to Adobe X Reader or you subscribe to another type of service that allows you to edit a .PDF file, then this is preferred. If you cannot, you can actually send in a paper application. As the paper process requires more time, please be aware that you would need to send in all your paper by October 8th really to make the November 1st deadline for Early Decision or Early Action. Please plan accordingly for this timing issue. You do not want to be in a less than favorable position simply because your application did not make it to the office on time.
What do you need to have in front of you to do your applications?
Your vital statistics….Name (name on transcripts), Date of Birth, Address, High School, and its CEEB code, which is a look up on most applications. Phone (put your home phone). Do not ask for message via text! Ask for messages either by email or parents’ phones. DO NOT put anything out there you could get spammed by!
Your Parents’ information….Names, Occupations, Addresses (if different), their school information, colleges, and graduate schools (if applicable). If you cannot find your parents information, do not make it up! Ask! Over the years, students have had some surprises about their parents when this is done. Also if you cannot find the correct occupation for your parent; ask them, do not just pick something off the screen! Some women who do not work do not like the option of homemaker….ask your mom what she wants as an occupation.
You will also be asked about your future major or choice for majors, and your choice for career. You do not have to be committed to either of these! This is simply an information gathering question colleges look at to see diversity of students’ choices. It is ok, to not know! I suggest NOT to select “undecided,” but rather to select something that truly interests you. If you are applying to a specific school in a college or university, such as Engineering, then you really do need to select an Engineering major option. This is NOT a commitment on your part; you can major in whatever you like once you have attended the school for a year or so. Do not be intimidated by this question.
Demographics are optional. I am against filling out ANY optional information unless there is a reason to do so. For example, currently in the US schools, there is a dearth of Hispanic female students compared to the actual percentage of female Hispanics in the country. When the percentage of students attending a school of a particular ethnicity, religion, gender, or race is seriously less than what are the actual percentages in the Nation, then it could be potentially a good thing.
Understand that legally, no University or College is obligated to give more admission preference simply based on these demographics. Most colleges have much higher diversity percentages than the Nation, generally. As of 2015, the percentages of what are termed “minorities” in the US are now hitting almost 51%. Soon, the idea of minority will be changed as what has been considered so in the past will no longer be…Also most colleges are majority female now, which means gender is really no longer a distinguishing attribute. For some very competitive colleges, a Caucasian male is actually a minority today! So please, I advise getting some counsel about your profile before choosing to answer questions that might suddenly put your profile in a different category. Contact us! This is a sensitive area and most counselors and parents are not necessarily aware of what is happening in each particular. This is worth getting a consult about alone. Have someone check your profile against your list and let you know!
Activities and if you will continue with them in college is asked as well. It is very useful to have a completed student resume in front of you before you sit down to fill this part of the application out. Contact Us! We can offer you a free template.
Course load for next year for the whole school year must be completed. Know what courses you are taking, and which trimester or semester for each class. List all your Advanced Placement Courses first, Honors second, etc.
You will also be able to list any college courses that you have actual credit for, please be aware that you must request the transcripts for these courses to be sent to the colleges directly. Your counselor is not responsible to do this. You must request and pay for these to be sent to all the colleges you are applying. Do not send as needed! Get your list to the college or colleges as soon as your school year starts; fill out the request for transcripts to be sent. You must have the Admissions’ Offices addresses and phone numbers, for each school to which you are applying, to put on the request form. You will also have to pay for each one to be sent. Be prepared! Some schools offer fee waivers, and should you need this, allow at least one more week to do so. That means get those requests in by the 3rd week of September at the very latest.
AP Tests can be listed as well….do not list ANY AP test grade that is not a 4 or 5. It is not valuable and could actually be somewhat of a deterrent. If you have AP courses with a 4 or 5 (you will get your AP scores from this past spring within a week or two) and you have some 4s or 5s, then you will also have to release these test scores to the colleges via the College Board’s AP site. You will pay for these to be sent to the schools along with your SAT scores. DO NOT SEND ANY SAT scores NOW!!! You send your SAT and AP tests’ scores in the fall, preferable about 3 weeks before application deadline. If you are taking your SAT or ACT again in the fall, you must wait to send the scores! You have to pay for score to be sent by school. And if you send now and then want to in the fall, you will have to pay all over again for the fall scores. The SAT allows you four score reports free if you put the school codes down as you register for the fall test, but know this: You cannot SEE those scores before they are sent! So if you know you are definitely applying Early Action and want the scores sent regardless, send them. Otherwise, WAIT! Also, there are fee waivers for this process as well, should you need. The costs of sending all the scores and the applications can mount up quickly. Fifteen schools could cost $2000 in fees alone.
You will have to complete supplements and essays. Depending on the school, you might have to write up 2 long essays and 10 short answers….I have had students over the years have as many as 18 essays both short and long to submit. So I am advising those who know they are applying to several schools now, to know how to plan for the timing. You will need at least two hours per application! I am not kidding! Two hours for each supplement on the Common Application too…you have to write the supplement out, you need it reviewed, you need to edit the essay, you need to spell check it, grammar check it, and have it read aloud several times! Need help, plan ahead, book some time to guarantee you will be on track and remove a lot of the pressure! Contact us!
There are these sites that offer “packaging” for applications. I have been on several and have discerned that all you are getting for $80 or $100 is someone putting your personal and demographic information on the application site for you and sending you the usernames and passwords for you to complete the application on your own, or pay them $150 an hour to do it. It is not worth it. That someone charges to make up username and passwords is absurd! They make money on the $150 an hour hook…but seriously, would you pay someone $80 to type in your name and address and make up a username?
Teacher recommendations and school forms will be done by your counselor once you have identified the teachers you are asking for those recommendations. The college teacher recommendations are NOT the same as the recommendations you might have gotten at the end of this school year for your counselor. Please ask your teachers before they are sent the electronic email request. It is a courtesy. See our Article.
So start gathering all this information together…in one month, you will go online and start these applications! Better plan ahead, be prepared….trust me, even those who are most savvy, always have some challenges in the fall. Get as much done as you can this summer. Once you have classes, homework, and senior fun going, you will get distracted. You will think you can get it done in a couple of hours, and I am telling you now, you can’t! Get ahead of the eight ball.